Population suffers biggest annual drop yet

Kyodo

The national population totaled 126,393,679 as of the end of March, down 0.21 percent from a year earlier for the fourth consecutive annual decline, government data showed Wednesday.

The number of people aged 65 or older came to 30,834,268, topping 30 million for the first time, and the number of people aged 14 or younger fell to 16.6 million, the lowest level on record, the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry said.

The decrease of 266,004 in the total population was the largest on record, the ministry said.

The numbers, based on resident registry data, underscore the aging of the population and the falling birthrate.

The number of births hit an all-time low of 1,029,433, falling for the fifth year in a row, while deaths dropped for the first time in 12 years to 1,255,551, it said.

The natural decline in the population — the excess of deaths over births — was 226,118, the sharpest on record.