Japan's population falls 'by record 244,000' in 2013

File photos of shoppers in Yokohama, near Tokyo Japan's government is trying to boost a stagnant economy in the face of a shrinking population

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Japan's population declined by a record 244,000 people in 2013, according to health ministry estimates.

The ministry said an estimated 1,031,000 babies were born last year - down some 6,000 from the previous year.

Meanwhile, the number of people that died last year was 1,275,000 - a rise of around 19,000 from 2012.

Japan's population has been shrinking for several years now. If current trends persist it will lose a third of its population in the next 50 years.

A quarter of the population is currently aged over 65 and that figure is expected to reach nearly 40% by 2060.

The government says the population totalled 126,393,679 as of 31 March - down 0.2% from a year earlier.

Japan has taken aggressive measures in recent months to spur growth in the world's third-biggest economy, after years of stagnation.

The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is trying to boost the economy through a combination of quantitative easing and cash injections, higher taxes, higher government spending and longer-term structural reforms.

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