The statistics are out. In 2019, the population of the Tokyo area, including Tokyo, Saitama, Chiba, and Kanagawa, increased by over 148,000 (148,783, to be precise). This may seem surprising to those used to reading cynical news about Japan’s decreasing population, which is true, but doesn’t show the whole picture. Rural-urban migration, as well as more immigration than before, is happening, resulting in some prefectures increasing in population.
This was the sixth straight year in which there was a net inflow of residents into the Tokyo area. The trend started in 2014 when the demographic surveys started to include foreign nationals. Prior to that, they had only included Japanese nationals.
Not only was there a net inflow (much like the past six years), but this net inflow was a bigger net inflow than previous ones. +148,783 was up 8,915 from 2018. It was the third year in a row in which net inflow figures increased.
Of course, now that foreigners are included, the statistics show six straight years of growth. However, what about looking only at Japanese nationals? What trends can we see if we do that? In that case, the population has grown for 24 straight years in the Tokyo area.
The net inflow was overwhelmingly young people. 132,533 were between the ages of 15 and 29. There were more females than males in the inflow.
Not every Japanese city fared so well for population growth. For example, Nagoya had a net outflow of 15,017. Osaka-Kyoto-Kobe, as well as Nara (basically most of the Kansai Region) had a net outflow of 4,097. In both areas, the number of people moving out has exceeded the number of people moving in for six straight years.
In Japan, of course, the population continues to drop, however, eight prefectures out of 47 still experienced growth in population in 2019. They were Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama, Chiba, Osaka, Fukuoka, Shiga, and Okinawa (which, by the way, has one of the highest birth rates in the country). Therefore, if one is hoping to invest in real estate and have it hold its value and continue to be rentable well into the future, then perhaps it is wise to look at the Tokyo Area, Osaka and certain other parts of the Kansai Region, Fukuoka, and Okinawa.
On the other hand, Hiroshima had the largest net outflow in its population. It dropped by 8,018 people.
Northeastern Japan, known as Tōhoku (東北) in Japanese, had net outflows in a few different prefectures. Fukushima had a net outflow of 6,785 people. Iwate had a net outflow of 4,526 people. Finally, Miyagi had a net outflow of 1,983 people. However, the outflow appears to be decelerating; in Fukushima and Iwate, the decreases were smaller than they were in 2018.
In total, 1,269 municipalities (cities, towns, villages, etc.) experienced net outflows. This was 73.8% of the municipalities in the country. This was an increase of 29 versus 2018, in which 1,240 municipalities experienced net outflows.
Tokyo had the largest inflow, with Osaka not far behind. Interestingly enough, despite the net outflow in three different Tōhoku Prefectures, including Miyagi Prefecture, Sendai itself (which is in Miyagi Prefecture) experienced a net inflow that was third in the nation.
The takeaway from this seems to be to invest in real estate in big cities (but probably not Nagoya or Hiroshima). Look especially at the Kantō Region including Tokyo and Yokohama, the Kansai Region including Osaka, Kyoto, etc., Fukuoka, and perhaps even Sendai and Okinawa, which both still seem to be growing.