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The number of people in Japan age 65 or older have reached a record 20.49 million, accounting for 16.2 percent of the total population, the Management and Coordination Agency announced Monday for Respect for the Aged Day, which falls today.

The figure was up about 760,000 from last year, it said, underscoring the accelerating pace of the graying of society as the total number of elderly citizens increased from 15 million seven years ago to top 20 million in February, compared with the 12 years it took to reach the 1991 figure from 10 million.

Elderly men numbered 8.51 million to account for 13.7 percent of the overall male population, while elderly women totaled 11.98 million to account for 18.6 percent of females. Women aged 85 or over outnumbered men by more than two-to-one, the agency said, accounting for 1.39 million against 580,000 men.

According to the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, the population of those age 65 or over will continue to increase, with one in four citizens estimated to be in that age group in 2015.

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