Japan will soon have the world’s oldest population, according to a report on population projections between 2001 and 2025 released by the Nihon University Population Research Institute.
“Japan will enter an era of having no other countries as a precedent model to follow,” Institute Deputy Director Naohiro Ogawa told a news conference in Tokyo on Tuesday.
By 2025, 37.27 million Japanese — or almost every third person in the country — will be 65 or older.
Just 17.4 percent of the population was in this demographic in 2000.
As a comparison, 25.7 percent of Italy’s population is forecast to be 65 or older in 2025, according to United Nations projections, placing it a distant second to Japan.
Of the Japanese in the 65-and-older demographic in 2025, 59.6 percent of them will be aged 75 and older, up from 39.9 percent in 2000, the report says.
The overall population is expected to peak at 127.45 million in 2005 before shrinking to 120.29 million in 2025, Ogawa said.
The birthrate is predicted to fall to 1.24 in 2017, down from 1.36 in 2000, and remain at the same level through 2025.
Ogawa attributed the declining birthrate to the growing number of women who are opting for a career and delaying marriage.
This trend is expected to continue, he added.
And while the longevity of Japanese people is expected to increase, there will be fewer young people around to take care of the elderly.
The National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, an affiliate of the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, released a similar report in January that Ogawa said is more optimistic.
He said Japan will be under pressure to take countermeasures, including reviewing its social welfare system and utilizing healthy elderly people as workers, in the near future.