The number of Japanese people (the population in Japan) has decreased at the fastest pace ever, while the number of foreign residents has risen to a record of nearly 3 million, government data showed on Wednesday.

The data showed that Japanese society is ageing across the country and suggests that foreign nationals are playing an ever bigger role in making up for the shrinking population.

The number of Japanese nationals fell for a 14th year, by about 800,000 people, to 122.42 million, according to resident registration data as of Jan. 1, 2023, released by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.

For the first time, the number of Japanese residents fell in all 47 prefectures, the data showed.

The number of foreign nationals living in Japan was a record 2.99 million, a 10.7% increase from the previous year and the biggest year-on-year increase since the ministry began tracking the data a decade ago.

As of Jan. 1, 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic spread around the world, there were 2.87 million foreigners living in Japan.

Japan’s total population fell to 125.42 million, a decrease of about 511,000, the new data showed. Foreign Media