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The population of the Tokyo metropolitan area is expected to age more rapidly than the national average, a white paper by the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry said Friday.

The population of those 65 or older in Tokyo and seven neighboring prefectures will grow 42 percent over a 10-year period, from 7.61 million in 2005 to 10.78 million in 2015, with the metropolitan area graying faster than the projected average of 31 percent projected for the entire country, the paper said.

The ratio of the elderly to the overall population of the area will reach 25 percent in 2015 from 18 percent in 2005, as baby boomers born in the late 1940s turn 65 or older.

To deal with the rapid aging expected in metropolitan Tokyo, the document stressed the need for expanding barrier-free housing and public transport.

The white paper, which is based on a survey by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, said that over the 10-year period the population of those 65 and older will expand 40 percent or more in suburbs 10 km to 50 km from downtown Tokyo.

The paper also pointed out that carbon dioxide emitted from the metropolitan area accounts for 27 percent of total emissions in Japan and called for constructing energy-efficient houses and buildings, as well as making extensive use of solar power and other renewable energy systems.

The seven neighboring prefectures that constitute the Tokyo metropolitan area are Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa and Yamanashi.

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