Japan's population fell by 263,727, or 0.21 percent, from a year earlier to 126,659,683 as of March 31, marking the largest annual drop and a fall for the third consecutive year, the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry said Tuesday.
The previous record drop — 134,450 — was last year.
The number of births — 1,049,553, — was the lowest since the survey began in 1968, while the number of deaths hit a record high of 1,256,125.
The proportion of the population under the age of 15 fell 0.10 percentage point to 13.25 percent.
In contrast, the proportion of the population 65 or over rose 0.57 point to 23.43 percent, reflecting the continued graying of Japan.
By prefecture, Fukushima's population fell by 44,281, or 2.17 percent, as a result of the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, which caused mass evacuations.
The population of the three major metropolitan areas of Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka rose to a record high of 64,288,100, or 50.75 percent of Japan's population.