TOKYO -- Japan's population has declined, with the number of women in the country decreasing for the first time in recent history, officials say.
A population estimate published Monday by the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry indicated that Japan's population shrank by 79,000 people to 127.7 million as of Oct. 1, 2008, with the number of females decreasing 20,000 to 65.4 million, the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper reported.
It was the first decrease in the female population since comparable record-keeping began in Japan in 1950, officials said, explaining the decline was mainly due more deaths and a larger number of women who went abroad for extended periods.
The Japanese male population was estimated at 62.3 million, down 59,000 from the previous year, the newspaper reported.
The overall population decline interrupted two consecutive years of population growth in the country, officials determined.
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