Japan sees slowest population growth since 1920

Japan's population has grown at the slowest pace since 1920 as the rapidly aging country grapples with extremely low birthrates, a census report showed Friday.

Japan, the world's 10th most populated country, said its population stood at 128.05 million as of October 2010, up 0.2 percent from the previous census in 2005.

The figure marked the slowest population growth since Japan began a census in 1920, said Keiko Nozaki, an official at the internal affairs ministry, which released the once-in-five-years census data.

"The weak population growth was mainly due to Japan's very low birthrates," Nozaki said.

While the census showed marginal population growth, Japan's population has continued to decline since 2007, the ministry said.

Like in other advanced countries, young Japanese people are waiting to get married and choosing to have fewer children because of careers and lifestyle choices.

Japan's fertility rate — the average number of children born to a woman over her lifetime — stood at 1.37 in 2008, one of the lowest in the world, the government said.

Japan's population is also aging faster than anywhere else. The government said the number of its citizens who are at least 100 years old rose 10 percent to 44,449 in 2010.

The number of Japanese who are 65 and older hit a record 29.4 million in 2010.