The population of Japan in 2003 was estimated by the United Nations at 127,654,000, which placed it as number 9 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In that year approximately 18% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 14% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 96 males for every 100 females in the country in 2003. According to the UN, the annual population growth rate for 2000–2005 is 0.14%, with the projected population for the year 2015 at 127,224,000. Japan is the only Asian country thus far with a birthrate that has declined to the level of industrial areas in other parts of the world. The estimated 10 births per 1,000 population in 2000 compares with about 343 births per 1,000 population in 1947. The steep drop since 1950 has been attributed to legalization of abortion, increased availability of contraceptives, and the desire to raise living standards. The
population density in 2002 was 337 per sq km (873 per sq mi). Even with the low birth rate, Japan is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Urban density rates were 5,500 per sq mi (14,245 per sq mi).
It was estimated by the Population Reference Bureau that 79% of the population lived in urban areas in 2001. The capital city, Tokyo, had a population of 26,356,000 in that year. Other major metropolitan areas include Osaka, 10,609,000; Nagoya, 3,377,000; Sapporo, 1,827,000; Kyoto, 1,703,000; Kitakyushu, 2,898,467; Hiroshima, 912,677; and Sendai, 821,000. According to the United Nations, the urban population growth rate for 2000–2005 was 0.3%.