Japan's working population further dwindled last year while the number of foreign labor increased, government statistics showed Friday.
According to the annual data from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, the working population from the age of 15 to 64 amounted to 75.45 million in 2018, shrinking 512,000 from 2017, hitting a record low level since comparable data became available.
The overall population as of last October decreased 263,000 to reach 126.44 million, falling for the eighth straight year, according to the ministry.
The number of foreigners, the ministry said, increased 167,000 to reach 2.23 million, growing for the sixth straight year.
The statistics reflect Japan's pressing issue of labor shortage, prompting the government to start a new visa system in April to introduce more foreign labor to fill in the gaps mainly as blue-collar workers.
According to the government, Japan is expected to accept up to 345,150 foreign workers under the new visa scheme over a five-year period starting April 1, including 60,000 in nursing care.