According to estimates based on national censuses carried out every five years, Japan's population shrank last year by more than 250,000 people, which constitutes a record 0.2%. This is the largest population drop recorded since 1950, the year during which the government began releasing the figures to the public.
To calculate this figure, Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs used data from both natural changes in the population (number of births minus deaths), and social changes --the number of people who entered the country minus those who left. In 2011, deaths outnumbered births by 180,000. Social change indicators are equally alarming.
In the immigration category, Japan's population fell by 79,000, with the number of non-Japanese residents having lived in the country for 90 days of longer dropping by a whopping 51,000 -- the largest decline ever recorded.
The number of children up to age 14 was a record low 13.1%, while people aged 65 or older represented 23.3% of the population--the highest number ever seen. In 24 different prefectures, people aged 75 and older outnumbered children. Overall, the elderly population of Japan rose by an estimated 268,000 people since 2010.
The Great East Japan Earthquake and the Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant crisis are listed as two prominent factors influencing the plunge, particularly in the number of people who left the country between 2010 and 2011.
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