The average life expectancy of Japanese people declined in 2022 for the second straight year, affected significantly by the coronavirus pandemic, according to the health ministry.

The average life span for women was 87.09 years old, down by 0.49 of a year, and that of men fell 0.42 to 81.05 years, with over 47,000 people dying due to the virus, showed recent data by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.

Despite the continued decline, Japan's life expectancy among women remained the longest globally, followed by South Korea at 86.6 years and Spain at 85.83 years, the ministry said.

Among men, however, Japan's global rank in life expectancy dropped from third place to fourth. Switzerland stood first at 81.6 years, with Sweden second at 81.34 years and Australia third at 81.30 years.

People wear masks at Shibuya's scramble crossing in Tokyo on July 23, 2022. (Kyodo)

It was the first time since 2010 and 2011 that Japanese life expectancy shrank in two straight years.

A ministry official said the second consecutive year of decline is "unusual" but expressed the view that the trend is unlikely to continue, citing the possibility the figure will start to rise again as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic wanes.

In the second year of the pandemic, roughly 47,600 people in Japan died from the coronavirus.

Assuming the mortality situation remains unchanged, the ministry assesses that the probability of women born in 2022 who will die due to the virus in future is 3.03 percent and 3.28 percent for men, more than double the percentage calculated in 2021.

Of last year's newborns, 87.9 percent of girls and 75.3 percent of boys are expected to live until 75 years old, while a respective 49.8 percent and 25.5 percent are likely to reach 90 years old, the ministry said.

It anticipates that 42.10 percent of females born in 2022 and 47.12 percent of males will die of cancer, heart disease or cerebrovascular disease.

In a scenario in which cancer or any of the other diseases are not the cause of death, females will live longer on average by 5.07 years and males by 6.11 years.