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65,000 centenarians in Japan

JAPAN is the world’s fastest-aging major nation. Japanese health and welfare ministry says there were 65,696 centenarians on September 1 2016, 4,124 more than last year. The ministry releases the data every year ahead of Respect for the Aged Day, which falls on the third Monday of September every year.

The oldest person was 116-year-old Nabi Tajima of Kagoshima prefecture. The oldest man was 112-year-old Masamitsu Yoshida of Tokyo’s Ota ward. Ministry officials attribute the longevity to advancing medical technology and increasing awareness about health.

A summary report of the last year’s national census show, the number of elderly people aged 65 or older accounts for 26.7 percent of the 127.11 million total population, up 3.7 percentage points from five years ago.

Meanwhile, the size of the average family has continued to shrink. The average number of household members fell from 2.82 in 1995 to 2.39 in 2015. Accordingly, single-person households have grown to occupy 32.5 percent of the total 51.8 million households, making it now the largest segment of the population, the report showed.

The census report also shows surge in elderly population living alone. As of Oct. 1, 2015, one in every eight men aged 65 or older and one in every five women of the same age category live alone. Meanwhile, about 1.69 million people live in welfare facilities for the elderly, representing a 40 percent surge from the previous census in 2012, the report said.

The ratio of people aged 65 or older is the highest ever recorded; this is because many baby boomers have entered this age category over the past five years. The country’s baby boomer generation, known in Japanese as dankai no sedai, usually refers to those born several years after the end of World War II. (Floro Mercene)