Japan's government says the population fell by a record amount last year, as the number of deaths climbed to an all-time high in the quickly aging country.
Japan logged 1.19 million deaths in 2010 - the biggest number since 1947 when the health ministry's annual records began. The number of births was nearly flat.
As a result, Japan contracted by 123,000 people, which was the most ever and represents the fourth consecutive year of population decline. The top causes of death were cancer, heart disease and stroke, the ministry said.
Japan faces a looming demographic squeeze. Baby boomers are moving toward retirement, with fewer workers and taxpayers to replace them.
The Japanese boast among the highest life expectencies in the world but have extremely low birth rates.
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