Tokyo’s Fastest Growing Areas in 2016 and Why People Are Moving There

For the 20th consecutive year Tokyo had more people living in or moving into the area than leaving. This is according to the results of the Basic Register of Residents (住民基本台帳 juumin kihon daichou) released by Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications at the end of January.

There were 74,177 more Japanese citizens in Tokyo in 2016, with many of these people having moved to Tokyo from other parts of Japan. This means that the trend of people leaving the countryside to overpopulate Japan’s largest metropolitan areas is still alive.

Although this was the 20th year in a row for gains in the Tokyo metropolitan area, the total number of people moving from one prefecture to another all over Japan was actually down from the prior year by almost 60,000 people (to 2.27 million). The reason for this decrease is thought to be less young people moving around to find a new job or for higher education opportunities.

The seven prefectures that had population gains last year were Tokyo, Chiba, Saitama, Kanagawa, Aichi, Fukuoka, and Osaka.

Fastest Growing Areas in Greater Tokyo


Chiba had the second highest growth of all of Japan’s prefectures, increasing by approximately 58,000 new residents. Nevertheless, the number of new Japanese residents in Chiba was down for the first time in the last five years by 7,519 people.

For this reason, statisticians at the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications fear that the population of Tokyo may lodge its first drop in many years in 2017.


For the second consecutive year, Setagaya Ward in Tokyo led the nation in new residents when broken down by locality (it grew by 5841 people).  Not only did Setagaya grow from new people coming from other prefectures, it also seems to have benefited from many people leaving Tokyo’s other wards to live a little further from the city center.

Todoroki Valley is a lush green walking trail located in the middle of densely populated Setagaya Ward. Photo: Wikimedia

In the past, students comprised the bulk of Setagaya’s growth, but this year the number of people in their mid- to late 20s was higher than in past years, and there was also natural growth of roughly 1500 people (more births than deaths). Population grew relatively evenly all over the ward, to a total population of around 900,000 people.

One of the reasons for Setagaya’s continued growth is the opening of the Futako-Tamagawa Rise complex in 2015, an upscale retail shopping area with several new apartment buildings and cultural amenities near the Futako-Tamagawa train station.

Nevertheless, Setagaya is the locality with the highest number of toddlers without a kindergarten for all of Japan, and there is still a gross lack of suitable facilities for people to take refuge in case of disaster.

Chuo Ward

Chuo Ward in Tokyo was the locality with the second highest population growth. Recently Harumi and Kachidoki near Tokyo Bay saw several new residential buildings be completed with almost 1500 new residences. Population in Chuo Ward has been growing steadily since its low of 71,806 people in April 1997, and it is expected to top 150,000 in January 2017.

Koto Ward

Koto Ward near Tokyo Bay has a similar story. There are many new residential buildings that were completed last year, or are slated for construction in the next several years there. Although in 2015 it was the ward with the second highest population growth, in 2016 it dropped to 11th place. However, it is expected that Koto Ward’s population will exceed 59,000 people by 2029. In preparation, there is a new large elementary school being built with 48 classrooms that is scheduled to be opened in 2018.

Itabashi Ward

Itabashi Ward grew by 4155 people last year (4th highest locality), but the situation is very different in this ward.

Most of its growth comes from people in their early 20s moving to the ward temporarily for its cheap housing and lower cost of living (there are six universities in Itabashi).

According to the Itabashi ward office, people tend to leave Itabashi once they get a little older in order to marry, start a new job, or have children.

The ward office is thus trying to make it easier for young adults to remain in Itabashi, for instance by increasing services for pregnant women and child rearing.


Of the independent cities that make up the greater Tokyo metropolitan area, only one was in the top ten in growth: Chofu.

There are three new Keio line underground stations that opened in Chofu in 2012. There is a large new retail center opening by Chofu Station this autumn, and new condominium buildings are springing up.

In addition, according to a leading real estate research firm, the Keio line is the third most popular train line to rent an apartment on for commuting purposes (after the JR’s Yamanote line and Chuo line).

The Keio line is the third most popular train line to rent an apartment on for commuting purposes (after the JR’s Yamanote line and Chuo line).

A main reason for this is that Chofu is only 15 minutes by train to Shinjuku, yet living there affords residents easy access to Masashino’s parks and nearby nature areas.
Source: Yahoo Japan, February 15, 2017

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