JAPAN, January 6, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Japan’s well-below-replacement-level birth rate, combined with an ever-increasing number of deaths has resulted in the country’s population falling by 123,000 in 2010, the fourth consecutive year of demographic implosion.

In 2005 the Washington Post correctly predicted that Japan’s population would begin to decline the following year. They predicted it would drop from the-then current 128 million to 126 million by 2015, and to 101 million by 2050.

According to an AP report, Japan recorded 1.19 million deaths in 2010 — the highest number since 1947 when the post-war health ministry began keeping records. The number of births recorded was 1.07 million, resulting in a net loss of population.

The health ministry report states that at the end of 2010 Japan’s total population was 125.77 million, with those aged 65 and older making up about a quarter of the population. The number of aged is expected to reach 40 percent by 2050.

Of even greater concern is the rapid increase in the number of old people relative to the number of available workers.

According to the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, in 1995 the working age population of Japan hit its high point, at 87 million. In 2004 this had dropped to 85.08 million and by the end of 2010 stood at 81.07 million.

An article late last year by the Economist magazine stated that, “If current trends continue, in 20 years time it will have dropped by 20m. By 2050 it will have fallen below 50m, forming an almost perfect bell curve in one century. Among rich nations, only Germany will suffer a similar fall.”

“When public pensions were introduced in the 1960s there were 11 workers for every pensioner,” said the Economist. “Now there are 2.6, with an OECD average of four. In a sign of growing disillusionment with the pension system, almost 40% of the self-employed fail to pay contributions.”

The health ministry reported 706,000 marriages in 2010, the fewest since 1954, blaming a later age of marrying and reluctance by women to forego careers and marry at all as primary reasons for the decline.