Japan's population — excluding foreign residents — fell last year at the fastest pace since the current survey started in 1968 as the number of births fell below 1 million, government data showed Wednesday.

As of Jan. 1, the number of Japanese people dropped a record 308,084 from a year earlier to 125,583,658. It was the eighth straight year of decline, despite ongoing efforts to tackle the rapid graying of society, the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry said.

The number of births stood at 981,202, while that of deaths hit a record-high 1,309,515. The "natural population loss" — calculated by subtracting deaths from births — totaled 328,313.