The number of infants born in Japan dropped to a record low last year, the health ministry said on Friday, as more couples put off marriage and starting a family amid a worldwide pandemic.
The number of births dropped to 840,832 in 2020, down 2.8% from a year earlier and the lowest since records started in 1899, the ministry said.
The coronavirus epidemic has hit birth rates across the world, such as in the USA, despite early speculation that pandemic-related lockdowns can result in a global baby boom.
The number of registered unions in Japan dropped 12.3% annually to 525,490, a post-war document, the ministry stated. The country’s fertility rate, the anticipated variety of births per woman, dropped to 1.34, one of the lowest in the world.
Japan has been struggling with a looming demographic crisis for years, with its birth rate continually declining — raising concerns of the aging population and shrinking workforce.
It’s a”super-aged” country, meaning over 20 percent of its population is older than 65. The country’s total population stood at 124 million in 2018 — however by 2065 it’s expected to have fallen to approximately 88 million.
Neighboring South Korea has also fought with reduced birth rates for years; in 2020, it reported more deaths than births for the first time — a mark referred to as the “inhabitants death cross,” significance the entire population has shrunk.
And in China, the world’s most populous nation, the number of newborns registered dropped almost 15% last year. The government last week announced it would further facilitate its strict family planning policy by enabling couples to have up to 3 children to combat the slide.