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Census Report Released in Japan

December 22, 2000

TOKYO (AP) _ Japan’s population in the last five years grew at its lowest rate since the end of World War II, the government said Friday, adding to fears the nation will be ill-equipped to support the burgeoning ranks of its elderly.

Japan’s latest census shows that the nation’s population stands at about 127 million, a mere 1.1 percent rise from the last population survey five years ago and the lowest growth in the postwar era, said Fumihiko Nishi of the Management and Coordination Agency.

The previous record-low growth was posted in the 1995 census, which showed a population increase of 1.6 percent, Nishi said. The figures were roughly in line with the agency’s projections.

Japan’s birth rate has been falling as more women choose careers over marriage. Economic considerations and a shift in social values have also caused married couples to have fewer children.

Demographers expect Japan’s population to peak as early as 2005, which has raised concerns about the ability of future generations to financially support a rapidly graying population.

Predictions that Japan’s work force will continue to dwindle has caused officials to reconsider the nation’s strict immigration policies that have limited the employment of workers from overseas.

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