Seniors 75 and older outnumber children in Japan
TOKYO -- Japan's rapidly aging population reached another milestone last year, with the number of seniors aged 75 and older surpassing that of children for the first time.
The internal affairs ministry announced the final results of its 2015 population survey Wednesday. The overall population, including foreigners staying in Japan for at least three months, came to a little over 127 million as of Oct. 1, 2015, down about 960,000 from the 2010 figure. This marks the first overall decline since the quinquennial survey began in 1920.
The Japanese-only population, which had already decreased in the 2010 census, came to around 124 million, down 1.07 million.
Seniors aged 75 and up totaled 16.12 million, nearly one-eighth of the population. Children aged 14 or younger numbered 15.88 million. The number of births was not enough to offset deaths.
Meanwhile, foreign residents increased by 100,000 to a record 1.75 million, reflecting a rising number of foreign workers in the country.
Men accounted for 61.84 million of the total population, and women 65.25 million.
Japan still ranks as the 10th most populous country, as it did in 2010. But No. 11 Mexico is nearly catching up. Japan was the only country among the top 20 nations that saw a population decline between 2010 and 2015.
Back in 1985, the population of seniors 75 and older was 4.71 million. This more than tripled over the next three decades. Children up to 14 years old decreased about 40% in that period.
Last year, children accounted for 12.6% of the population in Japan -- even lower than the two other countries facing a graying population: Italy's 13.7% and Germany's 12.9%.
Household count rose to a record 53.44 million, with one-person households making up 34.6% of the total. The biggest concentration of such households was in ages 25-29 for men, and ages 80-84 for women. One in six seniors 65 years and older live alone in Japan -- contributing to a rise in deaths unattended by anyone.
However, the increase in Japan's unmarried population -- one factor linked to a lowering birthrate -- has halted. The percentage of this population was 27.3% last year, down 0.2 point from 2010. The ratio for men in their 30s was 38.9%, down 1 percentage point. It had risen steadily since the 1950s when the ratio was around 6%, but slid last year. Some say improvement in work conditions led more to get married.