Tokyo : Based on the alarming data from the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, the Japan Policy Council estimated that in 2040, 896 municipalities, or 49.8 per cent of overall municipalities, would see their populations of women in their 20s and 30s decline by more than half from levels in 2010, reports Kyodo.

  The study projects the population of Muroto, Kochi Prefecture, to fall to about 5,000 in 2040, a third of the city’s current population, and the number of women in their 20s and 30s will drop to 156, down 83.4 percent. Behind the anticipated sharp drop is an outflow of young people to cities as a result of the decline of the fishing industry, the key industry in the coastal city.

“We have been working to secure jobs and enhance childcare, but there is no decisive measure. City may just disappear if left as it is,” a city official said. The city of Omuta in Fukuoka Prefecture had seen its population decline from about 200,000 to 120,000 following the closure of a coal mine. The city had a policy of increasing population but is now focused on slowing the pace of decline.

 The city government has been encouraging people to move in from other parts of the country but has achieved only limited results. “I hear that relocation (to a countryside) is popular across the country, but we have more people dying ,” a municipal government official said.

Akita City, has a sizeable population of 320,000 but a drastic fall is projected in the study, even though it is a prefectural capital. “There is no vitality in the area and there are no jobs,” said a 22-year-old man looking for work. “I hope some measures are taken soon.”  While the total population is decreasing, any municipality seeing a sharp drop in young women will also have a sharp drop in its total population even if the total fertility rate—the average number of children a woman has in her life—improves, the report notes.

In Aomori, Iwate, Akita, Yamagata and Shimane prefectures, 80 percent or more of municipalities are projected to see a 50 percent or greater drop in the population of women in their 20s and 30s.

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