The number of elderly households marked a record high of 10,241,000 in 2012, a government survey showed Thursday, another sign of the graying of Japanese society.

The figure accounted for 21.3 percent of households in Japan, according to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.

The previous record high of 10,207,000 was recorded in 2010, based on ministry surveys that began in 1986.

Elderly households are comprised of people aged 65 or older, including those living alone or with children up to age 17.

The number of households consisting of elderly couples living by themselves surpassed 5 million for the first time, totaling 5,017,000 and accounting for 49 percent of the aged households.

Some 3,498,000 elderly women lived alone, as did 1,370,000 elderly men, according to the 2012 survey.

The figures did not include data from Fukushima Prefecture, because a large number of its residents have evacuated from the area due to the triple-meltdown calamity at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.