Japan average life expectancy marks 1st drop in 10 years

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Tokyo metropolitan government buildings, foreground, are seen in April 2020.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The average life expectancy dropped from the previous year for both Japanese men and women in 2021, down for the first time since 2011, when the Great East Japan Earthquake occurred, a health ministry survey showed Friday.

The average life expectancy of Japanese men fell 0.09 year to 81.47 years and that of Japanese women dipped 0.14 year to 87.57 years. Both figures were the second-highest on record, after those in 2020.

According to the ministry, the average life expectancy was shortened by 0.1 year for men and 0.07 year for women in Japan due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic’s effects were greater than 0.03 year for men and 0.02 year for women in 2020.

“While the impact of the novel coronavirus was seen to a certain degree, we don’t think the [upward] trend over the last decade has reversed,” a ministry official said.

Average life expectancy is the number of years a baby born in a given year is expected to live.

Until 2020, the average life expectancy in Japan had hit record highs for nine consecutive years for men and eight straight years for women.

In 2021, Japanese women posted the longest female life expectancy in the world, while Japanese men fell to third place, following men in Switzerland and Norway, from second in the previous year.

Of Japanese people born in 2021, those who are expected to live to 75 came to 76.0% for men and 88.3% for women.

The survey also showed that 27.5% of Japanese men born in 2021 and 52.0% of Japanese women born in 2021 are expected to turn 90, and 10.1% of such men and 27.1% of such women are expected to reach 95.

The most common death cause among Japanese people born in 2021 is predicted to be cancer, followed by heart and brain diseases and pneumonia, with 27.66% of men and 19.86% of women expected to die from cancer.

Cancer reduced the 2021 average life expectancy by 3.43 years for men and 2.81 years for women, according to the survey.