Japan now has nearly 70 000 centenarians
Tokyo - The number of centenarians in Japan grew 3 per cent from a year earlier, to a record 69 785, nearly 90 per cent of whom are women, the government said on Friday.
The figure represented the 48th straight year of increase, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare said in a report released three days before this year's Repect-for-the-Aged day public holiday.
Japan had only 153 centenarians in 1963, when the ministry started a survey. The figure topped 1 000 in 1981, 10 000 in 1998 and 50 000 in 2012, the ministry said.
Japan has the world's oldest living person, Kane Tanaka, a 115-year-old woman in the south-western city of Fukuoka, according to the US-based Gerontology Research Group.
Tanaka was born on January 2, 1903, the year the Wright brothers made the world's first powered aircraft flights.
In April, Guinness World Records recognized Masazo Nonaka, a 113-year-old resident on the northern island of Hokkaido, as the world's oldest living man.
Japan is facing an increased demographic burden after decades of rapid ageing of the population and declining birth rates.
People aged 65 or older are estimated to constitute 38.1 per cent of the total population in 2060, up from 26.6 per cent in 2015, according to the National Institute of Population and Security Research.dpa