Population drops for 3rd year

Japan’s population fell by 75,000 in 2009, decreasing for the third straight year and dropping at the fastest rate since the end of World War II.

According to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry’s annual population estimate, the pace of decrease accelerated in 2009 as the 1,144,000 deaths–an increase of 2,000 from 2008–outpaced the 1,069,000 births–a drop of 22,000.

The population decline grew by 24,000 from that of the previous year.

The nation’s population fell in 2005 for the first time since the war. Although the population increased slightly in 2006, it has fallen each year since 2007.

The total fertility rate–the average number of children expected to be born to each woman over her lifetime–is forecast to hover around last year’s figure of 1.37.

“The rate of population decline likely will increase in the future,” a ministry official said.