Japan Mulls Boosting Immigration to Stem Population Decline

The Japanese government has unveiled a radical plan of allowing 200,000 immigrants a year to settle in Japan to stem a sharp decline in the population.

Japan has a population of 127.2 million, but that is expected to drop to 42.9 million by 2110 if the birthrate remains as low as it is now. The number is smaller than Japan's population in 1912 of 50 million.

Singapore has implemented a similar policy since 2000.

The Japanese government believes that simply boosting the country's own birthrate would no longer be enough to maintain a population of around 100 million, the level deemed necessary for Japan to remain competitive. As of 2012, Japan's total fertility rate was 1.41 children, which is higher than Korea's 1.24 but not sufficient to keep its population at the current level.

If 200,000 immigrants are admitted each year, Japanese authorities forecast the population will reach 114 million by 2110.

Since modernization, Japan has sought to maintain a population of 100 million, which was finally achieved in 1967.

But Japan began suffering from a chronically low birthrate in the 1980s while maintaining tight immigration controls.

Japan now plans to attract skilled foreign workers such as nurses and construction workers ahead the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Japan is set to join, calls for greater freedom of movement among member states.

englishnews@chosun.com / Feb. 27, 2014 11:34 KST