IBTimes UK

Japan's population shrank by one million in the last five years, recording the first ever population decline since 1920.

The 'ageing country's population now stands at 127.1 million, the internal affairs ministry said on Friday. This figure is 0.7% less than the population count at the last census five years ago.

Japan has long been fighting a rapidly slowing low birth rate but it is the first time the census figures have confide a drop in the absolute population numbers.

As many as 39 prefectures saw a decline in population, with Akita logging the sharpest fall of 5.8 percent, followed by Fukushima at 5.7 percent and Aomori and Kochi with 4.7 percent each, Japan Times reported.

Eight prefectures, including Okinawa, Tokyo, Aichi and Saitama, recorded a rise in population from the last census.

By 2060 about 40 percent of the country's population would be sixty-five or older, according to the government's calculations.

The government estimates predict that the general population numbers in 2060 will be one-third of the size of the current numbers.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in November the government will take steps to boost population growth. The steps proposed included plans to raise the birth rate, easier access to childcare and tax incentives.

"I want to confront the demographic problem head on and place particular emphasis on policies that will contribute to raising the birth rate," Abe said.

The prime minister said he wanted to raise the birth rate to 1.8 per woman from 1.42 currently.