Japan’s population was 126,284,805 as of March 31, up 213,500, or 0.17 percent, from a year earlier, the Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications Ministry said Friday.

There were 1,180,565 births in the year up to the end of fiscal 2000, with the average number of residents per household at 2.63. Both figures are record lows, the ministry said, citing the results of a survey of resident registers.

The proportion of people age 65 or older was 17.69 percent, up 0.62 percentage point. Younger generations and the population of working-age people have been decreasing annually. There were 61,902,999 men and 64,381,806 women in the survey period, living in 48,015,251 households, up 595,346, or 1.26 percent.

The survey shows the population is concentrated particularly in greater Tokyo, Kansai and greater Nagoya.

The greater Tokyo area comprises Tokyo, and Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa prefectures. The Kansai region covers Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo and Nara prefectures, while greater Nagoya comprises Gifu, Aichi and Mie prefectures.

More than half the population lived in the nine most populous prefectures. Also, 62,144,674 people, or 49.21 percent of the total population, were concentrated in the three major urban areas, up 0.38 percent from a year earlier, the survey shows.

Among the three most heavily populated zones, only Tokyo marked a higher growth rate than the previous year, rising 0.57 percent. Kansai grew 0.09 percent, while Nagoya was up 0.28 percent.

Tokyo is an attractive place to live because of favorable employment conditions and falling land prices, the ministry said.

Twenty-one prefectures, including Kanagawa and Saitama, marked a growth in their populations. Among them, Tokyo had the largest increase, up by 75,656 people from the previous year. Okinawa, at 0.70 percent, recorded the highest growth rate.

Meanwhile, 26 prefectures, including Niigata and Yamaguchi, saw their populations fall. Among the 26, Hokkaido suffered the largest decrease at 7,518. Akita recorded the highest shrinkage rate at 0.49 percent.

The government conducts the population survey every year on March 31, based on resident registries in cities, towns, villages and wards. The survey targets only Japanese nationals. The national census, conducted every five years, is for all residents in the country, including foreigners.

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