Japan’s population drops for third straight year

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TOKYOJapan’s
population fell by 75,000 in 2009, decreasing for the third straight
year and dropping at the fastest rate since the end of World War II.

According to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry’s
annual population estimate, the pace of decrease accelerated in 2009 as
the 1,144,000 deaths — an increase of 2,000 from 2008 — outpaced the
1,069,000 births — a drop of 22,000.

The population decline grew by 24,000 from that of the previous year.

The nation’s population fell in 2005 for the first
time since the war. Although the population increased slightly in 2006,
it has fallen each year since 2007.

The total fertility rate — the average number of
children expected to be born to each woman over her lifetime — is
forecast to hover around last year’s figure of 1.37.

“The rate of population decline likely will increase in the future,” a ministry official said.

A record low 1.27 million people were recognized as “new adults” on Jan. 1 as they had turned 20 in 2009, according to figures released by the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry.

The figure has hit a record low for three
consecutive years and has dipped below 1.3 million for the first time
since the government began compiling such figures in 1968.

Of the 1.27 million people, 20,000 were born in the 64th year of the Showa era (1926-1989) and 1.25 million were born on Jan. 8, 1989, or later that year, which was the first year in the Heisei era (1989).

Of the new adults, 650,000 were men and 620,000 were women. The total fell by 60,000 compared with the previous year.

The largest number of “new adults” was 2.46 million
recorded in 1970, a figure inflated by the first baby-boom generation
born in 1949 reaching adult age.

This was nearly double the latest number of “new adults.”

Meanwhile, 10.34 million Japanese, or 8.1. percent
of the population, have been born in the Year of the Tiger, this year’s
Chinese zodiac symbol.

Of them, 5.05 million are men and 5.3 million are women.

The largest proportion of 2.01 million were born when the Year of the Tiger rolled around in 1950.

(c) 2010, The Yomiuri Shimbun.

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Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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