Message from the Chairman
Message from the Chairman
On the occasion of New Year 2024, I would like to offer my greetings and well wishes to all of you.
In April 2023, a new version of “Population Projections for Japan” was published by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research. The report estimates that Japan’s total population will decline from 126.15 million in 2020 to 87 million in 2070; the population of Japanese nationals will decline from 123 million in 2020 to 77.61 million in 2070. Both projections are medium-variant scenarios. In fact, he population of Japan has decreased steadily since 2011. The total population of Japan in 2023 fell by 600,000 from a year earlier, while the population of Japanese nationals in 2023 dropped by 820,000 from the previous year. This means that Japan loses the number of residents equivalent to the population of Tottori Prefecture and the number of Japanese nationals equivalent to the population of Saga Prefecture every year.
The number of births in Japan declined to the levels under 800,000 in 2022, underscoring the fact that the country’s population has been graying rapidly with a falling birthrate in an overall population decline. The medium-variant scenarios mentioned above indicate that the percentage of the population aged 65 and over is expected to rise from 28.6% of the total in 2020 to 38.7% in 2070. If the population continues to decline and grow older at an alarming rate, there is growing concern that most of Japan’s socioeconomic systems will become unsustainable in the foreseeable future.
Indeed, labor shortages have already become evident in various sectors of society. For instance, the scarcity of drivers has led to fewer bus services and more bus route terminations, as well as a shortage of available taxis. Similarly, the logistics industry is struggling to secure enough truck drivers in the so-called "2024 problem," a series of logistical issues such as a decrease in delivery capacity as truck driver overtime restrictions come into effect this year. In the years ahead, the supply of goods and services, which is taken for granted on the assumption that necessary personnel is always available, will have to be transformed in many areas of the economy and society.
To respond to these challenging circumstances, it is critically important to keep boosting productivity across the entire society. What needs to be done is to review and revamp steadfastly the current modus operandi in every possible area, without getting bogged down with conventional thinking. Under this premise, harnessing the potential of rapidly-advancing digital technologies, including artificial intelligence, and robots is called for.
Since fiscal 2018, we, the Toyota Foundation, have implemented a special subject program called "Co-Creating New Society with Advanced Technologies" to make grants for research projects addressing social issues concerning cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), and robots. We will continue to step up efforts to enhance grant-making practices while trying to identify the needs of a changing society.
In Japan, nearly 2 million foreign people engage in work in a variety of sectors. Since the country’s population keeps shrinking, foreign workers are expected to grow in numbers as indispensable members of society. Since fiscal 2019, the Toyota Foundation has installed/introduced a special subject program, "Migrants and Japanese Society," awarding grants for survey and research-related projects supporting the creation of an environment enabling foreign workers to fully utilize their skills and abilities as well as grants for activities to build systems and institutions designed to improve the situation facing them. As such, we aim to strengthen our grant-making capability for activities that are expected to contribute to society as a whole, including in the area of highly skilled foreign professionals.
In addition to these initiatives under the two special subject programs, we will look broadly at what kind of high-impact grant-making practice is possible in response to the shrinking population and the fostering of the next-generation, among other issues, and put such a practice into action in fiscal 2024 and beyond.
The Toyota Foundation will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2024. We would like to take this opportunity to express our heartfelt gratitude to all the stakeholders, most notably Toyota Motor Corporation which has provided immense support during this half-a–century period. Currently, preparation is underway for several celebratory events to mark the 50th anniversary, such as a commemorative grant program, an international symposium, and the launch of a dedicated website.
In the next fifty years, while cherishing a wealth of insights and experiences gained so far, we strive to grow into an innovative Toyota Foundation, always staying ahead of the curve and truly benefiting society, at a time when the pace of change will pick up speed both at home and abroad.
Lastly, I would like to ask for continued support and encouragement from all of you. Thank you.
The Toyota Foundation (Public Interest Incorporated Foundation)