TOKYO, April 17, 2012 (AFP) - Japan's population last year shrank at the fastest rate since comparable records began, government data showed Tuesday.
The number of people in the world's third largest economy dropped by a record 0.2 percent, or 259,000, to an estimated 127,799,000 as of October 1 last year.
It was the largest fall since 1950 when the government started releasing its population figures under its current calculation methodology, said the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.
The proportion of people over the age of 65 stood at 23.3 percent, an all time high and the highest percentage in the world, the ministry said.
Japan's population is declining and ageing as young people increasingly put off starting families, seeing them as a crimp on their lifestyles and careers. A slow economy has also discouraged young people from having babies.