Japan sees largest population drop in more than a century

January 02, 2013

By KIYOKO MIICHI/ Staff Writer

Japan's population dropped to 127.47 million in 2012, marking the largest natural decline since statistics began in 1899, according to government estimates.

Demographic estimates released by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare on Dec. 31 showed the natural population decline, which is calculated by deducting the number of births from the number of deaths, hit a record 212,000 for 2012.

The number of births in 2012 was down 18,000 from the previous year, dropping to 1.033 million, the lowest number since 1899, excluding the period between 1944 and 1946, for which there are no data.

In Japan, the number of deaths exceeded that of births for the first time in 2005. In 2006, an increased number of births led to a natural population growth. But the population has declined for six years in a row since 2007, and the decreases have been growing year by year.

The total fertility rate--the number of children an average woman would have over her lifetime, an indicator used to evaluate the falling birthrate--is estimated to be almost the same as the previous year's rate of 1.39.

By KIYOKO MIICHI/ Staff Writer
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