A recent study by a university research institute forecasts not only a more significant rapid aging of Japanese society than had initially been anticipated, but also an increase in the number of elderly people needing nursing care and assistance.

The Nihon University Population Research Institute has released its most recent population projection for Japan, covering 2000 to 2025. It shows a higher rate of aging than that projected by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research in a study published in January.

Until now, the graying of society was primarily attributed to the nation’s low birthrate. From this point, however, the population’s longer life expectancy will have a bigger impact, according to Naohiro Ogawa, a Nihon University professor involved in the study.

The institute developed a new model for long-term population economics featuring various data compiled since 1982, including information related to population, economics and social security, and calculated the projected population.

According to the study, the population will peak in 2005 at 127.45 million, before falling to about 120.09 million by 2025.

People aged 65 and older totaled 22.04 million in 2000, or 17.37 percent of the entire population, but will increase rapidly to 37.27 million, or 31.04 percent, by 2025.

The birthrate is expected to keep falling, with women on average expected to have only 1.24 children by 2017, down from 1.36 in 2000, the researchers said.

Longevity will increase between 2000 and 2025, with the average life span of men rising from 77.64 to 83.55 and that of women jumping from 84.62 to 89.44.

Based on their projections, the researchers said that by 2025, the number of bedridden elderly will be 2.2 times that of current levels, while those with dementia will have recorded a 2.5-fold rise.

Postretirement planning used to center on a social welfare safety net, but the situation is changing and elderly people will increasingly have to plan for their own welfare and be less dependent on support from the government, Ogawa said.

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