Population in Fukushima Pref. shows slowest decline across Japan

The population of Fukushima Prefecture stood at 1,935,000 as of Oct. 1, 2014, down 11,000 from a year earlier, according to the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry’s announcement of Japan’s latest demographic shifts on April 17. The prefectural population represented a 0.55% decline, 0.24 percentage point less than the 0.79% rate of shrinkage as of Oct. 1, 2013. The 2014 rate of contraction was the smallest among Japan's 47 prefectures for the second year in a row. The Fukushima prefectural government sees the figures as signs of a letup in the population outflow following the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and ensuing accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. According to the ministry, the prefecture’s natural population decline contracted 0.03 point from 0.49% in 2013 while its population decrease resulting from people moving out of the prefecture shrank 0.21 point from the previous year's 0.30%. The prefecture saw an exodus of its population in 2011 when the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters occurred, but the outflow began to slow around 2013. Although the population decline continues, the prefectural government sees the contracting rate of shrinkage to be the result of an "upward trend in people moving to the prefecture" stemming from an increase in company office locations, the establishment of reconstruction base facilities and the return of evacuees from outside the prefecture. (Translated by Kyodo News)