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.
The number of Japanese people slid in 41 of the 47 prefectures amid continued migration to the capital and its vicinity. Tokyo was the biggest gainer, seeing an increase of 77,400, or 0.60 percent.
Hokkaido suffered the largest population decline — 33,593. In terms of the pace of decline, Akita Prefecture ranked first at 1.34 percent, followed by Aomori and Kochi prefectures.
By age, people 65 old or older accounted for a record-high 27.17 percent of the country’s population. The proportion of those age 14 or younger continued its declining trend to hit 12.69 percent in the latest survey.
The number of registered foreign residents increased to 2,323,428, up 6.85 percent from a year earlier.
While the number of foreign residents climbed in all prefectures compared with a year before, Saga Prefecture saw the fastest increase at 13.21 percent to 5,143 as it accepted more students from overseas and offered more training for technical skills.
Hokkaido saw a 12.76 percent increase in foreign residents to 28,189, followed by Kagawa, which had 10,665, up 10.38 percent.
Tokyo had the most registered foreign residents with 486,346, up 8.31 percent, followed by Aichi Prefecture with 217,218, up 7.69 percent, and Osaka Prefecture with 215,057, a rise of 3.72 percent.
More than half of the total foreign residents, or 53.96 percent, lived in metropolitan areas in the five prefectures of Tokyo, Aichi, Osaka, Kanagawa and Saitama, according to the tally.
The overall population of both Japanese and foreign residents dropped 159,125 from a year before, to 127,907,086.