Page last updated at 11:39 GMT, Monday, 21 September 2009 12:39 UK

One-in-four Japan women 'elderly'

Japanese women lift weights on Tokyo - 21 September 2009
Japan faces increased health and pension costs as the population ages

One-quarter of Japanese women are aged 65 or over, official figures indicate, highlighting fears of a looming demographic crisis in the country.

According to government estimates, more than 16 million Japanese women have reached 65, the highest number since records began in 1950.

Nearly one-fifth of men are 65 or older, meaning elderly people account for 22.7% of the population.

Japan is expected to face a shortage of workers as the population ages.

Japan now has 28.98m elderly (those 65 or older according to the World Health Organization) out of its population of 127m - 800,000 more than a year ago.

With one of the world's oldest populations, many young people have put off having families because of the costs.

The shrinking ratio of workers in the population will also face a higher tax burden as healthcare and pension costs rise.

The new government of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has promised allowances for couples who have children.

But Japan has traditionally resisted immigration in order to bring more working age people into the country.

Print Sponsor

Japanese women 'still not equal'
21 Aug 09 |  Asia-Pacific
Japan cost cuts hit 100 year olds
04 Mar 09 |  Asia-Pacific
Japan eyes demographic time bomb
19 Nov 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Alarm at Japan population trends
30 Jun 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Japan population 'set to plummet'
20 Dec 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Japan country profile
29 Sep 11 |  Country profiles

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific