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Japan population down 3,500 at 127 mil. for 1st decline in 38 years
TOKYO, Aug. 4, 2006 KYODO
     Japan's population stood at 127,055,025 as of last March 31, down 3,505 from a year before for the first year-to-year decline since the government began taking such statistical surveys in 1968, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said in a report released Friday.
     The figure was based on resident registers at municipal government offices across Japan, unlike the country's regular national census taken once every five years that includes foreign residents.
     Preliminary results of the health ministry's demographic movement reports and the internal affairs ministry's 2005 national census have already shown declines in Japan's population.
     The preliminary results of the 2005 national census, released in December, put Japan's population, including foreign residents, at 127,760,000 as of Oct. 1 that year, down 20,000 from a year before for the first decline on record.
     Friday's internal affairs ministry report showed the population of the elderly, aged 65 or more, accounted for 20.3 percent of Japan's population, a 0.58 percentage point increase over the 19.72 percent a year before.
     The number of births between April 1, 2005, and March 31, 2006, hit an all-time low of 1,065,533 and that of deaths marked a record high 1,072,281. The balance represented a natural population decrease of 6,748.
     The year-to-year population decline of 3,505 was smaller than the natural decrease because repatriates offset part of the natural decrease.
     The total population breaks down to 62,155,231 males and 64,899,794 females.
     The number of households increased year on year to 51,102,005, reflecting an increase in the number of the elderly living alone. The average number of people per household reached a record low of 2.49.
     By prefecture, Saitama, Chiba, Tokyo, Kanagawa, Aichi, Shiga, Osaka, Fukuoka and Okinawa prefectures saw a population increase.
     Tokyo's population increased the most, by 89,867 to 12,272,591. Hokkaido's population decreased the most, by 23,057 to 5,629,970.
     Tokyo, Kanagawa, Osaka and Aichi were the most populous of Japan's 47 prefectures. Kanagawa replaced Osaka as Japan's second-most populous prefecture. Kanagawa's population was 8,693,373, topping Osaka's 8,663,719 by 29,654.
     This shows Japan's population continues to flow into the Tokyo metropolitan region comprising Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba prefectures.
     In contrast, Tottori, Shimane, Kochi and Tokushima were the least populated prefectures.