Hong Kong has lost its claim to having the world's longest-living women after their life expectancy fell slightly to 86.3 years in 2012 - from 86.7 years in 2011.
It put Japan back in the top position after its health ministry announced that girls born in 2012 could expect to live, on average, to 86.41 years - slightly up from 85.9 years in 2011 when a massive earthquake and tsunami caused a dip in life expectancy.
Hong Kong men have long outlived Japanese men. Life expectancy for men in the city was 80.6 years in 2012, up from 80.3 in 2011. The figure for Japanese men last year was 79.94 years.
But Icelandic men hold the top spot, with life expectancy at 80.8 years last year.
Professor Paul Yip Siu-fai, a population policy expert at the University of Hong Kong, said it was too early to make any judgment on the decline in Hong Kong women's life expectancy. "Because of improvements in medical services, we tend to live longer but not necessarily healthier," he said.
"Life expectancy can sometimes be distorted because of our significant number of foreign workers here who are likely to be in better health than the locals."
Figures released by the city's Census and Statistics Department yesterday showed the population continuing to age.
"While the total population grew by 38 per cent between 1981 and 2012, the population aged 65 and over increased by 185 per cent," said its report.
"The number of females aged 65 and over increased by 156 per cent and their male counterparts by 228 per cent," it added.
The number of men per 1,000 women, has dropped from 1,087 in 1981 to 869 last year, with the number of Hong Kong women marrying mainlanders rising from 675 in 1986 to 6,785 last year.