• Kyodo News

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Japan’s population fell to 127,057,860 in the year to March 31, down for the first time in three years, largely because of an increase in the number of deaths amid the aging of the population, data released by the internal affairs ministry showed Saturday.

The population was down 18,323, with the number of deaths exceeding births, translating into a record net drop, or natural decline, of 73,024, according to the data compiled by the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry based on basic resident registers nationwide.

The number of deaths totaled 1,146,105, the highest since the ministry began calculating the data in March 1980. The number of births came to 1,073,081, the second-lowest figure after that for March 2006.

Japan “may have become a society facing full-scale population declines as the number of deaths is on a rising trend amid the aging population,” a ministry official said.

The population decline in the latest survey was partly offset by an increase in the number of people returning to Japan from overseas, as many companies scale down overseas operations.

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