Japan's Population Down For 10th Straight Year

Japan's population down for 10th straight year

The population of Japanese nationals has fallen for the 10th straight year, while the ratio of foreign residents topped 2 percent for the first time.

The internal affairs ministry says the number of Japanese living in the country was over 124.7 million as of January 1 this year. The number has been dropping since it peaked in 2009.

The population was down about 433,000 from the previous year -- the largest fall since the survey began in 1968. The drop has set a record as the largest for five straight years.

Births last year were the lowest since 1979, at about 921,000. The number of newborns was below a million for the third year in row.

The most crowded prefecture was Tokyo, with more than 13.1 million people, followed by Kanagawa. The smallest number of residents was in Tottori Prefecture at about 561,000.

Only five of Japan's 47 prefectures grew in population -- Tokyo, Saitama, Kanagawa and Chiba, which make up the Tokyo metropolitan area, as well as the southern prefecture of Okinawa. The number of Tokyoites increased by about 70,000. The figure for the northern prefecture of Hokkaido fell most, by about 39,000.

Among the three megalopolis, only the Tokyo area saw an increase, while the Nagoya and the Osaka areas decreased.

As for the number of foreigners, those with a residence card topped 2.66 million, exceeding 2 percent of the country's overall population for the first time. The numbers grew in all prefectures.

Tokyo has the largest number of foreign residents at about 550,000, followed by Aichi Prefecture at 250,000 and Osaka Prefecture with 230,000.