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Japan population up 0.17% to 126 mil., lowest growth.

TOKYO, Aug. 3 Kyodo

The population of Japan totaled 126,071,305 at the end of March, up 211,299 or 0.17% from a year earlier, the Home Affairs Ministry said Thursday.

It was the lowest growth both in terms of percentage and absolute numbers since the ministry began the demographic survey in 1968.

The previous low was in 1996 when the growth rate was 0.21%.

By region, the combined population in the major metropolitan areas of Tokyo, Nagoya and Kansai increased 0.37% from the previous year to 61,910,845, or 49.11% of the entire population.

The population throughout the rest of Japan decreased for the first time -- by 18,999 or 0.03% to 64,160,460 -- since the ministry began surveying figures for regional populations in 1982.

Among the three metropolitan areas, the population in and around Tokyo rose the most at 0.52%, followed by the Nagoya region in central Japan at 0.31% and Kansai in western Japan at 0.15%, suggesting that a drop in land prices is once again causing overcrowding in the Japanese capital.

The Tokyo metropolitan area is composed of Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama prefectures; Nagoya is made up of Aichi, Gifu and Mie prefectures; and Kansai comprises Hyogo, Kyoto, Nara and Osaka prefectures.

People aged 65 or older accounted for 17.07% of the population, an increase of 0.54 percentage point from a year before, while the proportion of those under 15 dropped 0.24 point to 14.72%, reflecting the rapid aging of Japanese society.

As the percentage of those who are 65 or older continues to increase, natural attrition in the population -- a condition in which the number of deaths exceeds the number of newborns -- was seen in 2,180 municipalities, the most since 1987 when the ministry began recording such figures.

By prefecture, Shimane in western Japan had the highest proportion of elderly people at 24.54%, followed by Kochi at 23.09% and Akita at 23%.

The population increased in 23 prefectures, including Miyagi, Aichi and Hyogo prefectures, with Tokyo experiencing the biggest jump of 62,699. Okinawa Prefecture topped the increase rate at 0.84%.

By contrast, the number of residents dropped in 24 prefectures, such as Akita, Niigata and Yamaguchi, with the largest decrease of 8,910 people in Hokkaido and the biggest drop rate of 0.47% in Akita Prefecture.

By gender, the male population stood at 61,825,833 and women totaled 64,245,472.

The number of households totaled 47,419,905, up 1.3% from the previous year, while the number of people per household continued to decline, standing at 2.66, down 0.03 from a year earlier.
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Publication:Japan Weekly Monitor
Date:Aug 7, 2000
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