Photo/Illutration Passengers at a Tokyo train station on April 15 (AP Photo/Hiro Komae)

Population figures released April 15 by the internal affairs ministry painted a very grim picture.

The rate of population decline and the actual number by which the Japanese population decreased as of Oct. 1, 2021, were the largest since 1950 when comparable statistics first began to be gathered.

Okinawa was the only prefecture to record a population increase. Even Tokyo suffered a population drop, its first in 26 years.

An internal affairs ministry official who oversaw the population study cited the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic for the situation.

Japan’s overall population stood at 125.502 million, down 644,000 over the previous year and the 11th straight year of decrease.

The rate of decrease was 0.51 percent.

The figures amply demonstrated that the graying of society, coupled with a falling birthrate, continue to plague the nation.

The ratio of those under the age of 15 came to 11.8 percent while that of the working population, defined as those aged between 15 and 64, stood at 59.4 percent. Both ratios were record lows.

In contrast, those aged 65 and older made up 28.9 percent of the population, while those aged 75 and older made up 14.9 percent. Both figures were record highs.

The decrease in Tokyo was due to a drop in the number of people moving to the capital and an increase in those moving out.

In 2020, Tokyo’s three neighboring prefectures of Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba, as well as Fukuoka Prefecture on the main southern island of Kyushu, registered population gains. But all four prefectures experienced population decreases last year.

In 33 prefectures, the ratio of population decrease expanded over the previous year. Osaka Prefecture recorded the largest such expansion of 0.31 percentage point.

Akita Prefecture had the largest decrease ratio of 1.52 percent.

Males accounted for 61.019 million of the overall population and females 64.483 million. The male population decreased by 331,000, the 14th straight year of decrease, while the female population dropped by 313,000, the 11th straight year of decline.

Foreign nationals living in Japan in 2021 totaled 2.722 million, a decrease of 25,000 over the previous year. The population of Japanese nationals decreased for the 10th straight year by 618,000 to 122.78 million.