The estimated number of people aged 65 or older in Japan stood at 36.17 million as of Tuesday, accounting for 28.7 percent of the nation’s total population, with both figures hitting record highs, an internal affairs ministry survey showed Sunday.

The population of older people increased by 300,000 from a year earlier and its share rose by 0.3 percentage point.

Older men totaled 15.73 million, accounting for 25.7 percent of the total male population. The number of older women stood at 20.44 million, or 31.6 percent of the female population across Japan.

The share of the population of older people has remained on the rise since 1950. It is expected to come to as high as 35.3 percent in 2040, when the so-called second baby-boomer generation, or people born in 1971-1974 to postwar baby boomers, reaches the age of 65 or older.

The survey results were released ahead of Respect for the Aged Day on Monday, a national holiday.

The proportion of people aged 65 or older in Japan was the highest in the world. Italy came second with 23.3 percent, followed by Portugal with 22.8 percent and Finland with 22.6 percent.

In 2019, a record high of 8.92 million people aged 65 or older in Japan had jobs, up by 300,000 from the previous year and rising for the 16th straight year. They accounted for a record 13.3 percent of all people aged 15 or over with jobs in the country, up by 0.4 point.

Of total workers aged 65 or older, those in the wholesale and retail industries made up the largest group, of 1.26 million, followed by 1.08 million people working in the agriculture and forestry sectors and 1.03 million people in the services industry.

The number of older people with nonregular jobs totaled 3.89 million, accounting for 77.3 percent of the total older workforce excluding corporate executives and self-employed people.

According to this year’s statistics, the number of older people with jobs in April decreased from a year earlier due to the spread of the new coronavirus but the figure for May showed a year-on-year increase. An official of the internal affairs ministry said the employment situation for older people is on a recovery trend after bottoming in April.

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