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Life Expectancy for Japanese Men and Women at New Record High
[2018.07.31]

Life expectancy for both men and women in Japan rose to a new high in 2017. For children born in 2017, 25.8% of boys and 50.2% of girls are expected to live to 90 years old.

The average life expectancy in Japan is 81.09 years for men and 87.26 years for women, according to the 2017 abridged life table compiled by the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare. Both figures are the highest on record so far. When statistics on life expectancy were first collected in 1947, shortly after the end of World War II, the rate was 50.06 years for men and 53.96 years for women. However, improvements in public health, innovations in medical treatment, and increased health awareness have brought a rapid rise in life expectancy. This is the sixth straight year for men and fifth straight year for women that figures have reached new highs.

Life Expectancy in Major Countries and Regions

Men Women
1 Hong Kong 81.7 Hong Kong 87.66
2 Switzerland 81.5* Japan 87.26
3 Japan 81.09 Spain 85.84*
4 Norway 80.91 South Korea 85.4*
5 Sweden 80.72 France 85.3
Switzerland 85.3*

Compiled by Nippon.com based on documents published by the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare.  *2016 data

Of 2017’s new Japanese citizens, 89.4% of boys and 94.5% of girls are expected to live to 65 years old. Meanwhile, 25.8% of boys and 50.2% of girls will reach 90. The Tang dynasty Chinese poet Du Fu wrote that ‘Living until seventy has always been rare’; however, this is no longer such a rare occurrence.

“Health span,” which the MHLW calculates based on the premise that a person has no health issues and lives a normal active life, stands at 74.79 years for women and 72.14 years for men. With the huge burden of an aging population on the economy, a future issue will be how to bridge the gap between health span and life expectancy.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo: © Pixta.)

  • [2018.07.31]
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