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Japan's 2005 population declines by 19,000

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  • Japan's 2005 population declines by 19,000

    Japan's population declined by 19,000 in 2005, the government said in an annual report Tuesday, fueling concerns about the nation's low birthrate and aging population.
    The survey by the Statistics Bureau came after an announcement by the government last week that Japan's population had declined for the first time on record in 2005.

    Japan's fertility rate is at an all-time low, and the government is concerned that declining number of young people will sap tax revenues and hobble the country's efforts to care for its growing elderly population.

    Japan's population fell to an estimated 127,757,000 as of Oct. 1 this year, down 19,000 from 127,776,000 from a year earlier, according to census results released by the statistics bureau of the internal affairs ministry.

    The census report said that the decline is the first decline in a one-year period since the World War II.

    "The population in our country is entering a declining phase," Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe said, citing the census report. "We will have to take even stronger measures to deal with the declining birthrate."

    The latest results also showed a population growth of 830,000, or just 0.7 percent, from the previous national census in 2000, the smallest growth since the government started compiling figures in 1920, the ministry said.

    Last week, the Health Ministry announced that an estimated total deaths in Japan was expected to exceed that of births by about 10,000 in 2005 for the first time on record.

    Tuesday's census report and the health ministry announcement both backed earlier projections that forecast Japan's population would start declining as early as 2006 and would likely fall by 27 million people to 100.7 million by 2050.

    The crowded nation's declining birthrate -- 1.29 children per Japanese woman in 2004, also a record low -- is at the root of the population turnaround. Later marriage ages, cramped housing, lack of affordable day care and high education costs are cited as reasons for women having fewer children.

    The shrinking population could threaten the country with labor shortages, tax shortfalls and an overburdened pension system as the number of taxpaying workers shrinks in comparison to the number of retirees. (AP)

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