Population and ethnography
to Countryaah, Japan's population is 97 percent Japanese. Modern
Japanese society - until the end of the Edo period (Tokugawa
period) - was divided into four caste-like strata,
samurai (warriors and administrators), peasants,
craftsmen and traders. These four layers constituted the
category of ryomin ('recognized citizens'), who
must avoid contact with the ritually unclean, 'castless'
semesters ('despised citizens'). The latter consisted
of hinin ('non-humans'), which were beggars,
prostitutes, jugglers and shavers, as well as eta
('very dirty'), among others. were butchers and diggers.
In 1871 the name semin was changed to burakumin
('villagers') and discrimination against them was forbidden.
However, Burakumin, whose number is estimated at 2-3
million, is still an oppressed, despised and underprivileged
minority in Japanese society. The same applies to some
extent to the Koreans (number: about 700,000), most of whom
are descendants of workers who, during Japan's annexation of
Korea (1910-45), more or less voluntarily immigrated to
Japan. In addition, in Japan, there are another 200,000
Koreans in the form of temporary workers and students.
The original population of Hokkaido, ainu (24,000), was
forcibly assimilated with Japanese society during the 19th
century; since the 1970s, attempts have been made to assert
and revive ainus cultural identity. In the 1990s, the
country's authorities allowed ainu to be a specific ethnic
minority, and in 2008, they were recognized as a indigenous
population in Japan.
Also, the indigenous population of the Ryukyu Islands,
who speak one with the Japanese closely related language,
are counted as the country's minorities. In addition, there
are small groups of Taiwanese, mainland Chinese, Tatars and
Russians. Many have lived in Japan for a long time, others
have come as labor immigrants in recent years.
Japan has had a very slow population increase in recent
decades and since 2005, the number of deaths has exceeded
the number born. Immigration is very small and does not
compensate for this natural decline. The latest population
forecast indicates that the country's population may be
below 100 million by 2050.
There are a number of reasons for the decline, including
the late marriages. The average age of firstborns in Japan
is close to 30 years. The infant mortality rate is 2 per
thousand. Not in any other country in the world is the
average life expectancy as high as in Japan, 81 years for
men and 87 years for women. Together with the low birth
rate, this means that a very large proportion of the
Japanese are older than 64 years, 28 percent in 2019, while
the proportion younger than 15 years is 12 percent.
Nowadays, smaller age groups are emerging into working age,
and the proportion aged 15-64 is gradually decreasing.
The population is aging at a much faster rate than it is
in Western Europe and the United States. This presents Japan
with increasing problems, both in terms of production and in
terms of care and care for the old. The rapid shift in age
composition cannot be affected to any great extent unless
there is a very extensive immigration.
In 2019, Japan's average population density was 335
residents per km2, but as 3/4 of the country is
too hilly for settlement, the density is much higher in the
built-up areas. More than 3/4 of the population lives in
localities with more than 5,000 residents. In the three
largest urban regions, Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya, all located
on the south coast of Honshus, 45 percent of the country's
population lives within a radius of 50 km from each center.
The largest individual cities in 2018 were Tokyo (9.6
million residents), Yokohama (3.7 million), Osaka (2.7
million) and Nagoya (2.3 million).
The official language is Japanese, which is spoken
throughout the island, from Hokkaido in the north to the
Ryukyu Islands in the south. There are considerable
dialectal differences, but a national language based on the
Tokyo dialect is used throughout the country. In addition to
Japanese, some residents of Ainu descent speak at Hokkaido
Japanese religion is characterized by its diversity.
Earliest we meet shinto, who grew out of the people's
religion and whose myth is written down in the first work of
Japanese literature, Kojiki (712), Shinto's sacred writing.
Kojiki presents a cosmogony that, through two gods (Izanagi
and Izanami), leads to the creation of Japan and the world.
The sun goddess, Amaterasu, symbolizes Japan more than any
other god. From her is also considered the emperor dynasty
descended which with today's emperor is believed to have
ruled the country for 125 generations. The Temple of the Sun
Goddess is located in Ise and is the foremost among about
100,000 Shinto temples. The only commandment is the demand
for external and internal purity, a command that is followed
both consciously and unconsciously by the Japanese. Shinto
became an early national religion early on, not least in
modern times 1868-1945. Today, state and shinto are
Confucianism came to Japan together with Chinese culture
about 400. Japan then received the ethics that is not in
shinto, with a sense of duty and discipline typical of the
Japanese of today.
Some of Chinese culture was made up of Buddhism, and it
was already before 600 an accepted second religion in Japan
(along with Shinto). Prince Shotoku (574-622) is said to be
the one who introduced Buddhism into the country. Ancient
Buddhism, which dominated the ninth century, was both
esoteric and intellectual. The most significant of the old
schools was Tendai, founded by Saicho (Dengyo daishi); from
it was towards the end of Heian and during the Kamakura
period the new Buddhism that would become the entire
people's, "faith Buddhism", popular from the 13th century
with the Amida schools (Jodo and Jodo Shinshu) and Nichiren
school. In the Iodos schools faith was required, in the
Nichiren schools proper worship. When Zen Buddhism came in
the 12th century, the monk life was emphasized again. After
the 13th century we find no new Buddhism, but during the
Muromachi period (the Ashikoga period) a rich culture
emerged, inspired by Zen Buddhism. Buddhism and Shinto grew
together early in a religious symbiosis.
Christianity reached Japan in the 16th century; several
hundred thousand were converted before the great persecution
began and Christianity was banned in 1614. It lived on in
secret, and was again allowed in 1869. In today's highly
secularized Japan, there are about one million Christians,
half Catholics and half Protestants.
Invisible are the hundreds of new religions that have
emerged in modern times. They are mostly Shinto or Buddhist.
Since 1970, the Christian element has increased. In the
ancestral cult, all religions, Shinto, Confucianism,
Buddhism and Christianity meet. In the homes there are
ancestral salters for daily simple cult acts, and at
different times of the year the spirits of the dead are
welcomed and celebrated.
After the sentimental sect Aum Shinrikyo's gas attack in
Tokyo in 1995, Japanese religious skepticism has increased.