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Japan's population drops for 3rd year

Publication Date : 09-08-2012


Japan's population fell by 263,727 to 126,659,683 as of the end of March, based on people listed in basic resident registers, marking the third straight year-on-year decline, according to the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry.

The number of births during the year hit a record low of 1,049,553 and the number of deaths was a record high at 1,256,125. The natural decline in population, or deaths exceeding births, was another all-time high of 206,572, and was cited as a major factor in the year's population decline.

The shrinking population was also driven by a 57,155-person decline due to social factors such as fewer people returning from overseas and fewer newly naturalized citizens. This was the first decline due to social factors in five years.

By prefecture, Fukushima saw the largest population loss, recording 44,281 fewer people compared to the previous year. Fukushima was followed by Hokkaido at 24,700, Iwate at 17,019 and Miyagi at 16,250.

Population decline was marked in prefectures that were severely affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

Meanwhile, the population of Tokyo rose by 36,810 from the previous year, the largest increase among the prefectures.

The total population of the nation's three largest metropolitan areas--Tokyo, Nagoya and Kansai--stood at 64,280,810, accounting for a record 50.75 per cent of the overall population and showing that the concentration of the population in large urban centers is continuing.

Vote disparities rise

The largest disparity in the value of votes in single-seat constituencies for the House of Representatives was 2.482-to-1 between the least-populated Kochi Constituency No. 3 and the most-populated Chiba Constituency No. 4, with the gap growing by 0.04 point from the previous year, according to Yomiuri Shimbun preliminary estimates based on the ministry's population data.

The population in Kochi No. 3 stood at 242,976 compared with 602,996 in Chiba No. 4.

Meanwhile, the disparity with the least populated Kochi Constituency No. 3 exceeded 2-to-1 in 84 constituencies, up 11 from the previous year. The 11 constituencies were: Miyagi No. 1, Tokyo No. 20, Nagano No. 3, Saitama No. 9, Chiba Nos. 1, 7 and 9; Tochigi No. 4, Hokkaido No. 9, and Osaka Nos. 13 and 15.

Vote disparities for House of Councillors elections were largest between Tottori and Kanagawa prefectures at 5.049-to-1, with the gap growing by 0.036 point from the previous year. Tottori Prefecture has two upper house seats with an average of 294,358 people per lawmaker, while Kanagawa Prefecture has six seats for which the average figure was 1,486,228.

The Democratic Party of Japan has submitted legislation to reform the lower house electoral system to rectify the vote disparities, which includes proposals to eliminate one single-seat constituency in five prefectures, cut 40 lower house seats from proportional representation blocs, and introduce a new system for allocating proportional representation seats in lower house elections.

The Liberal Democratic Party has also submitted election reform proposals, but Diet deliberations on the bills have made little progress.

To reform the upper house electoral system, the DPJ, LDP and New Komeito have agreed to submit a bill to the Diet that would revise the Public Offices Election Law by adding four upper house seats in densely populated areas and cutting four seats from other electoral districts.


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