Demography of the Empire of Japan

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This article deals with the population of the Empire of Japan. See also demographics of Japan and demographics of Japan before Meiji Restoration.
1920 Commemorative stamp for 1st national census of the Empire of Japan 1920 Empire of Japan Census.jpg
1920 Commemorative stamp for 1st national census of the Empire of Japan
Japanese policemen circa 1875 Japanese Policeman circa 1875.JPG
Japanese policemen circa 1875
Jiichiro Matsumoto, a Japanese politician, leader of the Burakumin liberation movement. Jiichiro Matsumoto.JPG
Jiichiro Matsumoto, a Japanese politician, leader of the Burakumin liberation movement.
Native Micronesian constables of Truk Island, circa 1930. Jokyoin and Junkei.JPG
Native Micronesian constables of Truk Island, circa 1930.
Photograph of Atayal men in 1900. Niao Ju Long Cang Suo She Mei Yuan She Tai Ya Zu Nan Ren .jpg
Photograph of Atayal men in 1900.

The population of Japan at the time of the Meiji Restoration was estimated to be 34,985,000 on January 1, 1873, [1] while the official original family registries (本籍, honseki) and de facto (or present registries (現住, genjū)) populations on the same day were 33,300,644 and 33,416,939, respectively. These were comparable to the population of the United Kingdom (31,000,000), France (38,000,000), and Austria-Hungary (38,000,000).


Japan proper

Total Population

Meiji government established the uniformed registered system of koseki (戸籍, family registries) in 1872, which is called Jinshin koseki (壬申戸籍).



A-type de facto


B-type de facto


Estimated population
Mar 8, 187233,110,79633,238,01134,806,000
Jan 1, 187333,300,64433,416,93934,985,000
Jan 1, 187433,625,64633,749,93235,154,000
Jan 1, 187533,997,41533,997,25035,316,000
Jan 1, 187634,338,36734,302,06835,555,000
Jan 1, 187734,628,32835,870,000
Jan 1, 187834,898,54036,166,000
Jan 1, 187935,768,54736,464,000
Jan 1, 188035,929,02336,649,000
Jan 1, 188136,358,95536,965,000
Jan 1, 188236,700,07937,259,000
Jan 1, 188337,017,26237,569,000
Jan 1, 188437,451,72737,687,64537,451,80037,962,000
Jan 1, 188537,868,94937,975,06937,704,10038,313,000
Jan 1, 188638,151,21738,276,37638,147,60038,541,000
Dec 31, 188638,507,17738,833,41538,530,40038,703,000 (as of Jan 1, 1887)
Dec 31, 188739,069,69139,510,14639,137,10039,029,000 (as of Jan 1, 1888)
Dec 31, 188839,607,23440,105,47939,626,60039,473,000 (as of Jan 1, 1889)
Dec 31, 188940,072,02040,692,80840,076,50039,902,000 (as of Jan 1, 1890)
Dec 31, 189040,453,46140,968,83540,460,30040,251,000 (as of Jan 1, 1891)
Dec 31, 189140,718,67741,268,73240,718,80040,508,000 (as of Jan 1, 1892)
Dec 31, 189241,089,94041,696,84741,083,40040,860,000 (as of Jan 1, 1893)
Dec 31, 189341,388,31342,060,97641,378,60041,142,000 (as of Jan 1, 1894)
Dec 31, 189441,813,21542,430,98541,694,70041,557,000 (as of Jan 1, 1895)
Dec 31, 189542,270,62043,048,22642,225,30041,992,000 (as of Jan 1, 1896)
Dec 31, 189642,708,26443,499,83342,665,30042,400,000 (as of Jan 1, 1897)
Dec 31, 189743,228,86343,978,49543,180,40042,886,000 (as of Jan 1, 1898)
Dec 31, 189843,763,85545,403,04143,716,40043,404,000 (as of Jan 1, 1899)
Dec 31, 189944,270,49544,269,90043,847,000 (as of Jan 1, 1900)
Dec 31, 190044,825,59744,831,30044,359,000 (as of Jan 1, 1901)
Dec 31, 190145,446,36945,404,70044,964,000 (as of Jan 1, 1902)
Dec 31, 190246,041,76845,990,00045,546,000 (as of Jan 1, 1903)
Dec 31, 190346,732,87648,542,73646,588,00046,135,000 (as of Jan 1, 1904)
Dec 31, 190447,219,56647,197,60046,620,000 (as of Jan 1, 1905)
Dec 31, 190547,678,39647,819,30047,038,000 (as of Jan 1, 1906)
Dec 31, 190648,164,76148,451,10047,416,000 (as of Jan 1, 1907)
Dec 31, 190748,819,63049,092,00047,965,000 (as of Jan 1, 1908)
Dec 31, 190849,588,80451,742,48649,318,30048,554,000 (as of Jan 1, 1909)
Dec 31, 190950,254,47150,011,70049,184,000 (as of Jan 1, 1910)
Dec 31, 191050,984,84450,716,60049,852,000 (as of Jan 1, 1911)
Dec 31, 191151,753,93451,435,40050,577,000 (as of Jan 1, 1912)
Dec 31, 191252,522,75352,167,00051,305,000 (as of Jan 1, 1913)
Dec 31, 191353,362,68255,131,27052,911,80052,039,000 (as of Jan 1, 1914)
Dec 31, 191454,142,44153,668,60052,752,000 (as of Jan 1, 1915)
Dec 31, 191554,935,75554,439,40053,496,000 (as of Jan 1, 1916)
Dec 31, 191655,637,43155,224,50054,134,000 (as of Jan 1, 1917)
Dec 31, 191756,335,97156,022,70054,739,000 (as of Jan 1, 1918)
Dec 31, 191856,667,71158,087,27755,662,90055,033,000 (as of Jan 1, 1919)
Dec 31, 191957,233,90656,253,20055,473,000 (as of Jan 1, 1920)

The first national census based on a full sampling of inhabitants was conducted in Japan in 1920 and was conducted every five years thereafter. Per the Statistics Bureau of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, the population distribution of Japan proper from 1920 to 1945 is as follows [2]

DatePopulation % ChangeArea (km2)Density (km2)% Urban

The above figures include Hokkaidō, the northernmost island; the central island of Honshū, site of the most important cities and industrial centers; and the smaller islands of Kyūshū, Shikoku, and Okinawa (except for the 1945 census values).

Total Fertility Rate from 1874 to 1950

The total fertility rate is the number of children born per woman. It is based on fairly good data for the entire period. Sources: Our World In Data and Gapminder Foundation. [3]

Years1874187518761877187818791880 [3]
Total Fertility Rate in Japan3.523.743.753.673.583.553.59
Years1881188218831884188518861887188818891890 [3]
Total Fertility Rate in Japan3.773.673.963.83.984.044.044.434.544.18
Years1891189218931894189518961897189818991900 [3]
Total Fertility Rate in Japan3.994.44.264.354.364.514.664.724.734.69
Years1901190219031904190519061907190819091910 [3]
Total Fertility Rate in Japan5.014.974.834.614.524.385.
Years1911191219131914191519161917191819191920 [3]
Total Fertility Rate in Japan5.
Years1921192219231924192519261927192819291930 [3]
Total Fertility Rate in Japan5.
Years1931193219331934193519361937193819391940 [3]
Total Fertility Rate in Japan4.764.864.634.394.594.344.453.883.84.14
Years1941194219431944194519461947194819491950 [3]
Total Fertility Rate in Japan4.364.184.113.953.113.374.514.384.33.44
DatePopulation % ChangeArea (km2)Density (km2)% Urban

The above figures include Hokkaidō, the northernmost island; the central island of Honshū, site of the most important cities and industrial centers; and the smaller islands of Kyūshū, Shikoku, and Okinawa (except for the 1945 census values).

Urban Population

In Japan proper, the population of major cities was as follows:

City or


JapaneseJan 1,


Dec 31,


Dec 31,


Dec 31,


Dec 31,


Dec 31,


Dec 31,


Dec 31,


Oct 1,


Oct 1,


Oct 1,


Oct 1,


Oct 1,


Feb 22,


Nov 1,


Tōkyō 東京595,9051,121,8831,389,6841,214,1131,440,1211,818,6552,186,0792,050,1262,173,2011,995,5672,070,5295,875,6676,778,8046,558,1612,777,010
Ōsaka 大阪271,992361,694476,271482,961821,235995,9451,226,6471,395,8231,252,9832,114,8042,452,5692,989,8743,252,3402,833,3441,102,959
Nagoya 名古屋125,193131,492162,767194,796244,145288,639378,231452,043429,997768,558907,4021,082,8161,328,0841,344,100597,941
Yokohama 横浜64,60289,545121,985152,451193,762326,035394,303397,574422,938405,888620,296704,290968,0911,019,466624,994
Kyōto 京都238,663245,675279,792317,270353,139380,568442,462509,380591,323679,963765,1421,010,5931,089,726964,466866,153
Kōbe 神戸40,90080,446135,639153,382215,780285,002378,197442,167608,644644,212787,596912,179967,234918,032379,166
Kawasaki [4] 川崎3,1234,0315,0364,8965,6475,5647,23910,06021,39154,634104,346154,748300,777380,919180,042
Hiroshima 広島74,30581,91488,82091,479122,306121,196142,763167,130160,510195,731270,365310,118343,968336,483137,197
Fukuoka [5] 福岡41,63542,61753,01458,18166,19071,04782,10697,30395,381146,005228,290291,158306,763324,499252,282
Yokosuka 横須賀2,81013,25124,36624,36624,75036,95670,96485,47889,87996,351110,304182,871193,358298,132202,038
Kure [6]
n. d.11,1607,33511,64821,55366,006100,679128,342130,362138,863190,265231,333238,195293,632152,184
Nagasaki 長崎29,65638,22955,06365,374107,422153,293176,480161,174176,534189,071204,179211,702252,630270,113142,748
Amagasaki 尼崎12,40412,74213,58013,95515,06618,00619,88825,04538,46144,24150,06471,072181,011270,073153,051
Sendai 仙台51,99861,70990,23173,77183,325100,23197,944104,141118,984142,894190,177219,547223,630261,117238,250
Yahata [4] 八幡n. d.n. d.3,0682,3093,0147,59222,76745,630100,235118,376168,218208,629261,309252,662151,378
Sasebo [6] 佐世保n. d.n. d.8,00513,12237,48568,34493,05194,91487,02295,385133,172173,283205,989241,239147,617
Sapporo 札幌1,78515,04116,87627,69437,48255,30470,08496,924102,580145,065168,575196,541206,103225,842220,139
Sakai 38,83844,01548,16546,13850,20354,04061,10367,70684,999105,009120,347141,286182,147217,939168,348
Shizuoka 静岡31,55536,83837,66437,09642,17248,74453,61464,10874,09384,772136,481200,737212,198211,666161,720
Kumamoto 熊本44,62044,38452,83362,43261,46359,71761,23368,16770,388147,174164,449187,382194,193211,011181,128
Wakayama 和歌山61,12454,86856,71355,72663,66768,52777,30377,68383,50095,622117,437179,732195,203205,396147,523
Hakodate 函館28,82545,47752,90963,61978,04085,31387,87599,795144,749163,972197,252207,480203,862196,680181,531
Kanazawa 金沢109,68597,65394,25791,53183,66299,657110,994129,804129,265147,420157,309163,733186,297193,560200,584
Kagoshima 鹿児島27,24045,09757,46556,13953,48159,00163,64075,907103,180124,734137,232181,736190,257189,99193,698
Niigata 新潟33,15240,77846,35349,70053,36659,57661,61666,62292,130108,941125,106134,992150,903177,289174,170
Okayama 岡山32,37232,98948,33351,66558,02581,02593,42186,96194,585124,521139,221166,144163,552160,90292,861
Toyama 富山44,68253,55658,15958,18759,55856,27557,43764,82261,81267,49075,09983,324127,859160,537100,775
Otaru 小樽3,90315,88212,62934,25956,96179,36191,28192,864108,113134,469144,884153,587164,282151,905145,510
Kōchi 高知39,75730,98732,24134,71136,51135,51838,27939,16249,32965,72396,991103,405106,644136,699111,630
Tokushima 徳島48,86157,45661,10761,33761,50163,71065,56170,29268,45774,54590,62297,021119,581116,73480,681
Takamatsu 高松32,73637,69832,08135,33034,41637,43042,57841,83746,55071,89779,90686,840111,207107,20272,656
Fukui 福井39,78437,37640,84942,68044,28650,15550,39656,21856,63959,94364,19975,27394,59599,47745,559
Akita 秋田38,11829,22529,56828,22929,47734,35036,29436,56036,28143,88751,07060,64661,79197,361101,009
Matsue 松江37,30833,38135,93435,40934,65135,08136,20938,63137,52741,39644,50252,03355,50654,28254,033
Hagi 45,31821,20619,80419,27415,87718,11418,06917,12914,38633,22532,10632,58732,27030,96038,388
Shuri 首里44,98425,58726,20525,35924,80923,82725,14124,10222,83820,58220,19919,30517,53717,964n.d.

In 1937 Japanese demographers projected the Japanese population in 1980 to reach 100,000,000, in accordance with observed growth rates.

Japanese overseas possessions

Japan annexed Taiwan after the First Sino-Japanese War, while victory in the Russo-Japanese War gained Japan the Kwantung Leased Territory, Karafuto, and Korea. These acquisitions increased the area controlled by Japanese to 262,912 square miles (680,939 km2).

The total population of the Empire of Japan, including Taiwan, Korea, and Karafuto was 64,940,034 on Dec 31, 1908, which could be broken down as follows:

And the population of concessions as of Dec 31, 1908, was as follows:

Territory1920-10-011925-10-011930-10-011935-10-011940-10-01Area as of 1920
Empire of Japan 76,988,37983,456,92990,396,04397,697,555103,727,610674,612.076
   Japan Proper55,963,05359,736,82264,450,00569,254,14873,114,308381,808.042
    Taiwan 3,655,3083,993,4084,592,5375,212,4265,872,08435,973.550
    Korea 17,264,11919,522,94521,058,30522,899,03824,326,327220,740.718
    Karafuto 105,899203,754295,196331,943414,89136,089.766
Concessions 919,5681,054,0741,328,0111,656,7261,367,3344,168.804
    Kwantung 688,130765,776955,7411,134,0811,367,3343,374.655
    Railway Zone 231,438288,298372,270522,645To Manchuria 242.149
    Tsingtao 248,209To Republic of China 552.000
South Pacific Mandate 52,22256,29469,626102,537131,2582,514.026

The census population in 1940

Total: 151,481,298 (of whom 74,319,534 were Japanese, 26,129,517 were Koreans, 5,538,576 were Taiwanese, 50,899 were South Pacific natives, 1,382 were Karafuto natives, 45,105,446 were of Manchurian and Han , and 154,203 of other nationalities).

Estimated populations in 1940 in other occupied territories

China-Nanking Republic: 182,604,000

Hainan Island: 2,200,000

Kwangchow: 1,238,000

Shantou: 237,000

Fuzhou: 223,000

Amoy: 113,000

Kinmen Island: 50,000

Chishima Islands: 10,972

Urban population in overseas territories

In terms of cities, the population of major cities:

RankCity1890 census1910 census1920 census1930 census1940 census
1 Keijō 1,165,000230,000247,000350,0001,100,000
2 Fuzan NA81,00074,000130,000400,000
3 Heijō NA40,00060,000137,000286,000
4 Jinsen NA30,00040,00054,000171,000
5 Taihoku 78,00095,000164,000249,000326,000
6 Tainan NA44,000112,000166,000296,000
7 Kīrun NANA48,00079,000100,000

Taiwan and Korea

1st Census Poster 1st Census poster in Japan.JPG
1st Census Poster


By the time of 1908, the population of Manchuria was 15.83 million people and on October 1, 1932, when Manchukuo was founded, it had become 29,280,008 people.  The population of Manchuria in early 1934 was estimated at 30,880,000.  These numbers included 30,190,000 Chinese, 590,760 Japanese and 98,431 other nationalities (Russians, Mongols etc.).  Chinese numbers included 680,000 ethnic Koreans.  Approximately 300,000 men were added to the Japanese military garrison in 1937. Between 1938 and 1942, a contingent of 200,000 young farmers arrived in Manchukuo;  joining this group after 1936, there were 20,000 complete families.  In Shinkyō, the Japanese made up 25% of the population.

At the end of 1938, the total population of Manchukuo was estimated at 36,933,000, including approximately 1 million Japanese civilians and 500,000 Japanese military personnel.  These figures exclude the rented territory of Kwantung and Dalian, which were included in Japanese territories abroad.

In 1940, the Manchurian State Council census had a population of 41,080,907 inhabitants, including 38,880,542 Hans and Manchurian, 1,309,000 Koreans, 819,582 Japanese, 5,000 Taiwanese and 66,783 of other nationalists; the proportion of men to women was 123.8 / 100.

As of October 1, 1942, the population had increased to 44,240,002 people.

At the end of the war, 850,000 Japanese migrants were arrested when the Soviet Union invaded Manchuria. Basically, with the exception of public and military officers, these people were repatriated in stages from 1946 to 1947 to Japan under Allied occupation.

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  1. Population of Japan after Meiji 5 compiled by the Cabinet Bureau of Statistics of Japan in 1930.
  2. Statistics Bureau, The Population of Japan
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Max Roser (2014), "Fertility Rate", Our World In Data, Gapminder Foundation
  4. 1 2 Population in 1889 and 1893 excludes military residents and prisoners.
  5. Population in 1873 includes those of Hakata (20,985) and Fukuoka (20,650). Population in 1879 includes those of Hakata (22,954) and Fukuoka (19,663).
  6. 1 2 Population in 1889 excludes military residents and prisoners.