Japan’s population is expected to have decreased further in 2012, with the rate of decline likely to mark the largest on record at 212,000, health ministry estimates showed today.
The estimated number of newborn babies in 2012 fell to a record low 1,033,000, down by 18,000 compared with the year before, according to the survey by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.
Based on the figures, the nation’s population as of Oct 1, 2012 was estimated at 125.95 million.
The natural population decline, calculated by deducting the number of deaths from that of births, stood at 212,000, which is higher than the corresponding figure in 2011 when the decline surpassed 200,000 for the first time.
With the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research predicting the population in 2060 to be 86,740,000, a ministry official said Japan’s population will keep shrinking at a faster pace, while the size of the younger generation will decrease.
The population has been decreasing since 2005.
Although it shifted to an increase in 2006, the number of deaths surpassed the number of births from 2007 and the decline has since continued every year.
The estimated number of people who died in 2012 totalled 1,245,000, becoming the 10th straight year for the figure to surpass the 1 million mark, the survey said.
Based on comparable data made available in 1947, the figure for the number of deaths is estimated to be the second-biggest since 2011, when northeastern Japan was devastated by the March earthquake-tsunami and nuclear disasters.
The 2011 figure was 1,253,066.
The top four leading causes of death in the country were cancer, heart disease, pneumonia and cerebrovascular disease.
The four diseases accounted for 60 percent of the overall death rate.
The fertility rate of Japanese women — the average number of children a woman will have over her lifetime — is estimated to be the same as in 2011 at 1.39, according to the survey.
On average, a person is born every 31 seconds and a person dies every 25 seconds.