Tokyo’s population declines as residents continue to move to Western Japan

Tokyo’s population has recently seen a net decrease as residents fled the city following the March 11 Tohoku Disaster and the nuclear emergency.

The hiring season and university enrollment schedule in Spring/Summer usually sees the Tokyo population rise. However, the statistics for June and July showed that the number of people who moved out of the Tokyo metropolitan area exceeded the number who moved into the area, causing the total population to decrease by 4,000 in greater Tokyo, and 6,400 in Tokyo alone. This is despite the thousands of new residents moving in from the Tohoku region.

According to the Tokyo Statistics Division Bureau of General Affairs, the number of registered foreign residents in Tokyo has fallen by about 12,000 between January 1st and July 1st (about 2.85%). The biggest outflow in foreign residents was seen amongst the following nationalities:

– France -7.91%
– UK -5.80%
– Korea -5.62%
– India -4.30%
– America -3.65%

Japanese language schools have also suffered from a drop in enrollments. Almost 100 students from the Akamonkai Japanese Language School in Arakawa-ku, Tokyo, returned to their home countries and the school’s branches in Seoul and Shanghai are having trouble convincing new foreign students to study in Tokyo.

A Shinjuku-based real estate company that deals mostly with South Korean and Chinese tenants, Kannichi Fudosan, reported that the number of cancelled apartment contracts doubled between March 11 and May. Although they have seen an increase again in rental contracts, the numbers are 70 – 80% of what they were last year.

But it wasn’t just foreigners leaving the city. Sources also tell me that Shanghai saw an influx of Japanese visitors following the earthquake.

The Kansai area, meanwhile, has seen an increase in population. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, there has been a net increase in migration to Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo and Nara Prefectures for the five months up until July, 2011.

A senior researcher at Resona Research Insitute said that prior to March 11 there was a continual migration of residents from Osaka to the greater Tokyo area. However, the flow has now reversed.

The Sankei Shimbun, September 10, 2011.
“Radiation, power fears lead to population decrease in Tokyo” The Asahi Shimbun, September 10, 2011.
Tokyo Statistics Division Bureau of General Affairs (

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