Japan’s three major causes of death for years have been cancer, heart disease, and hypertension (cerebrovascular disease). However, Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare revealed that in 2011, pneumonia had supplanted hypertension as the third leading cause of death in the country. Pneumonia had previously occupied the fourth position since 1975.
Of the leading causes of death, cancer covers 28.5%, heart disease covers 15.5%, and pneumonia 9.9%. At more advanced ages, the risks of both cancer and pneumonia rise significantly. The MHLW attributes the rise in pneumonia related death to Japan’s long lifespans and general aging trend. On a more positive note, the MHLW concluded that the popularity of low-salt diets and changes to the healthcare system to cover treatment for strokes and other hypertension-related conditions has led to the precipitous decrease in cerebrovascular related death.