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The population of Tokyo – at present one of the most densely inhabited cities in the world – will fall by half by 2100, with nearly 46 per cent of those residents past retirement age.A study group set up by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and including academics and city officials estimate that the census figure for 2100 will see Tokyo’s population standing at about 7.13 million people. In the last census, in 2010, there were 13.16 million residents of the city, with that total predicted to rise to a peak of 13.35 million in 2020 before beginning a relentless slump.
Japan is on the brink of a population crisis, experts are warning, with one of the most rapidly ageing societies in the world – thanks in part to medical advances enabling people to live longer than ever before – but young couples having fewer and fewer children.
In 2011, some 1,057,000 children were born, a decline of 14,000 on the previous year.
The situation is so critical that the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research has warned that there will be a mere 49.59 million Japanese by 2100, a decline of more than 61 per cent on the 2010 figure.
Added to the concern over the falling birth rate are the obvious economic consequences of a huge imbalance in the ages of the population. In the not-too-distant future, experts warn, there will be too few working-age people paying for the health care and pensions of the elderly population.
“The number of people in their most productive years will decline, while local governments will face severe financial strains,” the experts said in a statement.
“So it will be crucial to take measures to turn around the falling birthrate and enhance social security measures for the elderly.”
The panel said the 7.13 million residents of Tokyo in 2100 will include 3.27 million people over the age of 65.
“The working population, concentrated in Tokyo, will be rapidly graying,” Akihiko Matsutani, a professor at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, told Kyodo News.
“If the economies of developing countries continue growing, the international competitiveness of major companies in Tokyo will dive,” he added.