Okinawa passes mark to “super aging society”

People aged 65 and over account for 21.1% of the total population of Okinawa Prefecture as of March 2018. That’s an increase of 0.6 percentage points from the previous year and marks the first time Okinawa breaks into so called “super aging society” level as the share of the elderly rises over 21%.

The share of people over 65 in the entire Japan is 27.7% as of Oct. 2017, and now all prefectures are in the super aging society category with Okinawa being the last one to pass the 21% point the lowest ratio in the nation.

The number of the elderly in the prefecture stood at 305,984 at the end of March this year.

The Okinawa Prefecture Elder Care and Nursing Division calculated the latest aging rate using numbers from Okinawa’s population estimates and the long-term care insurance business situation report.

The aging of population in Okinawa Prefecture has been changing slower compared to Japan mainland, although the number of children (0 ~ 14 years old) and working age people (15 ~ 64 years old) has been decreasing, and the share of the elderly is expected to increase in the future.

The rate in Okinawa is predicted to reach 22.6% in 2020, when there will be 360,000 people who are 65 or older. At the same time nationwide, one in four Japanese will be elderly in 2025.

Regarding the population of 75 and over, their numbers will increase rapidly until 2025 in almost all prefectures of Japan, then slowing down and peaking in 2030. After that, the share of the elderly is expected to begin to decrease. However, in Okinawa, Tokyo and Kanagawa. the share of the elderly is expected to continue increasing towards 2040.

An associate professor at Okinawa University Welfare Division, Satoshi Shimamura, says, “Okinawa lost a generation in the Battle of Okinawa, and there were lots of children because of the high birthrate after the war. That explains why Okinawa meets the “super aging society” status later than Japan mainland.”