Is Japan densely populated

Population density of Japan

Japan can be compared well with Germany in terms of area size, even if the geographical situation is completely different due to its island location. The direct comparison shows the high population density of Japan according to data from the Japanese Statistics Bureau (Stat. Yearbook 2002).

 ResidentsArea (km²)E. per km²
Japan (10/1/2000 census)126.919 million377.873340
Germany (end of 2000)82.260 million357.022230

Note: Based on the given area, the population density for Japan is actually 336 inhabitants per km² - without the 9,232 km² inland waterways, 344 inhabitants per km².
(Such insignificant contradictions, for which there are also some explanations, are not uncommon when you put different statistics [here demographic and geographic] together.)

However, the population on the elongated, mountainous arch of the island is unevenly distributed and is concentrated on the largest of the four main islands: Honshu. This is also where the most densely populated region of Japan is located: Kanto, which will be briefly discussed below.

Japan is divided into 47 prefectures, which (not always uniformly) are grouped into 8 regions. 5 regions with a total of 34 prefectures are located on Honshu.
The regions with their prefectures:
- Hokkaido (1 prefecture)
- Tohoku: Aomori, Akita, Iwate, Yamagata, Miyagi, Fukushima
- Kanto: Tochigi, Gunma, Ibaraki, Saitama, Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa
- Chubu: Niigata, Toyama, Nagano, Ishikawa, Fukui, Gifu, Aichi, Shizuoka, Yamanashi
- Kinki: Hyogo, Kyoto, Shiga, Osaka, Nara, Mie, Wakayama
- Chugoku: Tottori, Shimane, Okayama, Hiroshima, Yamaguchi
- Shikoku: Kagawa, Tokushima, Ehime, Kochi
- Kyushu-Okinawa: Fukuoka, Saga, Nagasaki, Oita, Kumamoto, Miyazaki, Kagoshima, Okinawa

Region / island (2000)ResidentsArea (km²)E. per km²
Hokkaido5.683 million83.45368
Tohoku (Honshu)9.817 million63.984153
Kanto (Honshu)40.428 million32.1471.258
Chubu (Honshu)21.627 million61.569351
Kinki (Honshu)22.713 million32.931690
Chugoku (Honshu)7.732 million31.810243
Honshu as a whole102.317 million222.441460
Shikoku4.154 million18.788221
Kyushu-Okinawa14.767 million42.169350

Note: In the list, some areas whose allocation is unclear were not taken into account: "Figures for prefectures exclude areas which spread over prefectures and whose boundaries are uncertain." (The areas considered add up to 366,851 km² compared to the actual land area of ​​377,873 km² mentioned above.)

For a more precise orientation: Overview maps with a deeper administrative structure of Japan
(Originals clickable on

region Kanto:

In it: prefecture Tokyo:

(Includes original map on Related Links z. B. to Shinyuku or Shinjuku within Tokyo.)

The Shinjuku district (larger photo at> Wikipedia) is also the seat of the prefecture administration of Tokyo.

The following is a comparison of the Kanto region (including the cities of Tokyo and Yokohama) with the extremely densely populated German state of North Rhine-Westphalia:

 ResidentsArea (km²)E. per km²
Kanto (October 2000)40.428 million32.1471.256
North Rhine-Westphalia (end of 2000)18.010 million34.081528

Around one in 40 Europeans lives in North Rhine-Westphalia (with a quarter to fifth of all residents in Germany)!

But in order (purely theoretically) to achieve a population density similar to Kanto, North Rhine-Westphalia would have to double the Ruhr area, the Rhenish metropolises and all other cities and communities. B. to incorporate all of Berlin - a not very refreshing idea.

With its high population, Kanto could theoretically belong to the 30 largest countries in the world, with a population similar to Spain, which has more than 15 times the area.

Kanto is made up of the prefectures of Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma (or Gumma), Saitama, Chiba, Tokyo and Kanagawa. According to the census of October 1, 2000, Kanto has a share of around 31.9% of the total Japanese population.

On the economy: According to the Japanese Statistical Yearbook 2004, the share of the prefectures of Kanto in the Japanese gross domestic product in the fiscal year 2000 was 182,249 billion yen from 509,702 billion yen, or around 35.8%.

W. Flüchter deals with the agglomeration of Tokyo, the largest metropolitan area in the world, in: Tokyo quo vadis? (Working paper University of Duisburg 1997). There you can also find the interesting information that during the Japanese "soap bubble economy", the urban area of ​​Tokyo alone was valued as high as the entire area of ​​the USA as a result of a crazy land price spiral! The total area of ​​relatively small Japan was four times as expensive as the territory of the United States.

(According to a list of the Large International Urban Areas / 2001 by Demographia, the metropolitan area around the Japanese capital comes to the following values: Urban Area Tokyo-Yokohama: 29.950 million inh. / 4,429 km² / 6,762 inh. Per km².)

Online sources and calculation bases:

  • Statistics Bureau & Statistics Center, Japan (
    > Go To English [> Statistics]> Japan Statistical Yearbook> Population and Households>choose: 2- 3 Population by Prefecture

  • Statistics Bureau & Statistics Center, Japan (
    > Go To English [> Statistics]> Japan Statistical Yearbook> Land and Climate>choose: 1- 7 Area by Prefecture (and 1- 8 Area by Configuration ...)

  • Statistics Bureau & Statistics Center, Japan (
    > Go To English [> Statistics]> Statistical Handbook of Japan>choose: Chapter 1> Land as: Chapter 2> Total Population and Population Density and Regional Distribution

  • Statistics Bureau & Statistics Center, Japan (
    > Go To English [> Statistics]> Japan Statistical Yearbook> National Accounts>choose (under 3-14 Prefectural Accounts): Major Components

  • Table Germany by country

Supplements / update information:

Newer dates z. B. at GeoHive

Population density map: Diercke/ Westermann