Japan’s Birth Rate Falls To a Record Low

Japan’s birth rate fell to a new low for the eighth straight year in 2023, according to Health Ministry data released on Wednesday. A government official described the situation as critical and urged authorities to do everything they can to reverse the trend. From a report: The data underscores Japan’s long-standing issues of a rapidly aging and shrinking population, which has serious implications for the country’s economy and national security — especially against the backdrop of China’s increasingly assertive presence in the region.

According to the latest statistics, Japan’s fertility rate — the average number of babies a woman is expected to have in her lifetime — stood at 1.2 last year. The 727,277 babies born in Japan in 2023 were down 5.6% from the previous year, the ministry said — the lowest since Japan started compiling the statistics in 1899. Separately, the data shows that the number of marriages fell by 6% to 474,717 last year, something authorities say is a key reason for the declining birth rate. In the predominantly traditional Japanese society, out-of-wedlock births are rare as people prize family values.

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