With 26.18 million individuals and as further evidence of the country’s rapidly aging society, Japanese aged 70 and older account for more than 20 percent of the total population for the first time, government data said Sunday.
The data, released by the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry ahead of Monday’s Respect-for-the-Aged Day holiday, showed that as of Saturday people aged 70 or above accounted for 20.7 percent of the population, up from 19.9 percent last year.
With the percentage of retirees increasing and the total population declining due to a low birth rate, the government needs to address rising social security costs and a shortage of people who can work.
Elderly people — defined as those aged 65 or older — came to a record 35.57 million, up 440,000 from the previous year, making up 28.1 percent of the total population, also a record-high.
In another first, elderly women topped the 20 million mark with 20.12 million individuals, substantially more than the 15.45 million elderly men.
Japan’s proportion of elderly people in the population was the highest in the world, followed by 23.3 percent in Italy, 21.9 percent in Portugal and 21.7 percent in Germany, the ministry said.
The National Institute of Population and Social Security Research estimates that the ratio of elderly in Japan will reach 35.3 percent in 2040.
Japanese people also appear to be living longer, with those aged 80 or above reaching 11.04 million, up 310,000 from the year before, including 2.19 million aged 90 or older, a rise of 140,000.
Meanwhile, elderly people who have jobs increased for the 14th straight year to a record 8.07 million in 2017, accounting for 12.4 percent of those employed. Among elderly workers, three out of four were part-time workers or other types of non-regular employees at 3.16 million.