The cost of living in Tokyo, already the highest in the world, posted the sharpest year-on-year rise in eight years in October while the jobless rate remained stable, the government said in a preliminary report released Friday.

The government, in a separate report, said Japan's farming population has fallen more than 10 percent in five years since 1985, confirming a restructuring is taking place in the agriculture industry as popularity of farming is declining among young people.The Management and Coordination Agency said consumer prices in the Tokyo area, the bellwether of the nationwide price trend, gained 3.9 percent in October over a year ago, equaling a similar rise in August 1982.

The October rise was the second highest after a record 4.3 percent surge in December 1981.

"It is true that the rise is fairly sharp but it is seen to be a temporary phenomenon and the basic price trend remains stable," said an official of the Economic Planning Agency.

The official noted the October rise was in reaction to a substantial fall in prices of fresh vegetables and fruits a year ago because of favorable weather.

He said the figure also reflected higher prices of oil products, including fuel for home use, "but we are not seriously worried about the November data because, generally speaking, prices of most consumer goods, including oil products, showed signs of stabilizing in early November."

The Management and Coordination Agency attributed the substantial price rise in October mainly to rising prices of fresh foods, clothes, automobile-related products and transportation costs.