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Japan marked 5th consecutive year of record-low traffic deaths in 2021: NPA

The Central Government Building No. 2 which houses the National Police Agency and the National Public Safety Commission is seen in the Kasumigaseki district of Tokyo in this file photo. (Mainichi/Kazuo Motohashi)

TOKYO -- A total of 2,636 people died in traffic accidents across Japan in 2021, according to figures released Jan. 4 by the National Police Agency -- a record low for the fifth straight year.

    There were 203 fewer deaths than the previous year, a 7.2% drop, the agency said. It was the fifth year in a row for Japan to mark a new low in traffic-related deaths since records began in 1948.

    Police said Kanagawa Prefecture, south of Tokyo, had the highest number of deaths in the year for the first time with 142. It was followed by Osaka Prefecture with 140 and Tokyo with 133. Shimane Prefecture in western Japan recorded the fewest with 10 deaths, eight fewer than in 2020.

    Central Japan's Aichi Prefecture, which normally saw high road deaths alongside Tokyo, recorded 117 fatalities in 2021 -- 37 fewer than in the previous year. Northernmost prefecture Hokkaido also marked a large drop of 24 deaths for a total of 120. Overall, 16 of Japan's 47 prefectures saw increases in traffic deaths compared to 2020.

    Per head of population, west Japan's Tokushima Prefecture had the highest number of deaths with 4.45 per 100,000, while Tokyo was lowest at 0.95 per 100,000.

    Among the deceased, 1,520 were aged 65 or over -- 76 fewer than in the previous year. They accounted for 57.7% of all deaths -- the highest proportion for a second consecutive year.

    There were 305,425 accidents overall, down 3,753 from 2020, while 361,768 people were injured -- a drop of 7,708 on the year prior.

    (Japanese original by Naritake Machida, Tokyo City News Department)

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