The ageing of Japan’s population is globally unprecedented both in its level and its speed. The proportion of people aged 65 years old and over is now more than one-quarter of the total population of Japan — proportionally, the largest in the world. This will grow to one-third of the total population in 2035. It took only 24 years — from 1970 to 1994 — for the proportion of Japanese people aged over 65 to increase from 7 per cent to 14 per cent. In European countries it took between 50 and 100 years, and in some cases even longer. Japan’s population has aged twice as fast as Germany’s and more than four times faster than France’s.