Japan’s population has fallen by nearly one million, according to new statistics – the first decline since official census records began in the 1920s.
The country lost 947,345 people – more than the population of San Francisco – between 2010 and 2015.
The decline of 0.7% to 127.1 million has been predicted by the government annually but the new statistics confirm the trend.
It is an indication that as the nation gets older, and people have fewer babies at a later age, a demographic crisis is looming.
According to the United Nations, Japan’s population is likely to shrink to 83 million by 2100, with 35% of them older than 65.
Economists fear that the decline in population spells trouble for the world’s most indebted economy.
Prime minister Shinzo Abe’s government has tried to tackle the coming crisis by installing lawmaker Katsunobu Kato as the “minister for 100 million active people”.
Kato is tasked with stabilising Japan’s birthrate at 1.8, up from 1.41 in 2012.
Experts, however, view the efforts as futile. “What they are talking about and what they are going to try and get minister Kato to do is not doable,” Michael Cucek, an adjunct professor in the faculty of the social sciences at Waseda University, told the Guardian.
“They have a goal of 1.8 births per woman, but to maintain a population of 100 million would require 2.1 births per woman,” he added.