TOKYO -- Japan now ranks 11th worldwide by population, based on preliminary 2020 census data released Friday, the lowest since 1950.
An influx of foreign residents slowed the pace of Japan's population decline, measured at 0.7% from the previous census five years earlier, but the Tokyo region continued to gain as urban concentration intensified.
The 126.22 million people living in Japan as of Oct. 1, 2020, represents a drop of 868,177 from five years earlier.
The decline of 0.7% from 2015 marked Japan's second straight decrease over a five-year census period. Japan recorded a 0.8% dip in the 2015 census, the country's first drop since the counts began in 1920.
The decrease in Japan's native-born citizenry accelerated during the five years through 2020 due to more deaths than births, the ministry said, but a greater inflow of foreign nationals averted a bigger population decline.
The population declined in 38 of Japan's 47 prefectures, with Akita in the north recording the steepest loss of 6.2%.
Tokyo posted the biggest gain, rising 4.1% to a record 14.06 million. The metropolitan area -- which includes Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa prefectures -- reached 36.94 million, an increase of around 800,000. The tally also means greater Tokyo alone is home to 29.3% of all people in Japan, up 0.8 percentage point from 2015.
Other prefectures with a gain include Osaka, the southernmost prefecture of Okinawa and Aichi, where the city of Nagoya is located.
By gender, Japan was home to slightly more than 64.86 million women and about 61.36 million men.
The latest figures also show that more people live alone. The count of households increased 4.2% to 55.72 million, but the average household now consists of 2.27 people, down from 2.38 in 2015.
The final census results are due in November.