The number of Japanese aged 65 or older has reached a record 24.31 million, or roughly one out of every five people in the country.
The Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications Ministry released an estimate Sunday that 19 percent of the total population will fall into that age bracket as of Monday, which is Respect for the Aged Day.
The total is up by 0.5 percentage point from last year and the largest percentage ever.
It is also the highest among industrialized nations. The latest comparable data puts the corresponding percentage at 18.2 percent in Italy for 2001, 17.1 percent in Germany for 2001 and 16.1 percent in France for 2003.
The number of males aged 65 or older is estimated at 10.26 million, surpassing 10 million for the first time and accounting for 16.5 percent of the male population. The number of women aged 65 or older is estimated at 14.05 million, or 21.5 percent of the female population.
The number of people in Japan aged 65 or older is expected to total 32.77 million in 2015, 26 percent of the total population, according to the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, an organization under the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.