Japan’s government documented a “record low” of 811,604 newborns last year, Kyodo News reported on Friday, noting that the data is merely the latest statistic highlighting Japan’s dire population problems.
The number of babies born in Japan in 2021 has decreased by 29,231 from 2020. The development signaled an unexpectedly sharp drop in newborn numbers in Japan, which Kyodo says have “already fallen to levels the 2017 government study projected for 2027.” News.
Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare announced the newborn dates for 2021 at a press conference on June 3. The Department of Health said it attributed the low figure to “a decline in birth rates among women in their 20s”. Tokyo said it was unclear whether other factors, such as uncertainty about the future or increasing economic uncertainty, contributed to this decline in the number of young Japanese women giving birth.
Japan’s top cabinet secretary Matsuno Hirokazu expressed dismay at Friday’s press conference at the low birth rate, warning that it “could shake the foundations of our society and economy.” He vowed to address the issue as Tokyo’s top priority to move forward.
“We will create a comforting social environment where people can give birth and raise children,” Matsuno said.
He added that the Japanese federal government will work to increase support for “fertility treatment and childcare services” while promoting favorable conditions that would encourage men to take paternity leave.
Kyodo News on June 2 provided the following details on Japan’s latest newborn statistics:
Women between the ages of 30 and 34 accounted for 292,435 births, the largest number among the age groups in the survey. The median age for having a first child increased by 0.2 years to 30.9 years, the oldest age on record.
Women aged 40 to 44 were the only age group whose birth total rose by 617 from a year earlier to 48,516, suggesting more women in the country are choosing to become mothers later in life.
After prefecture, Okinawa recorded the highest birth rate, with each woman having an estimated 1.80 babies in her lifetime, followed by Kagoshima and Miyazaki, both in southwestern Japan, with 1.65 and 1.64, respectively.
Tokyo had the lowest birth rate (1.08) of any Japanese prefecture last year, followed by Miyagi Prefecture (1.15) and Hokkaido Prefecture (1.20).
Japan’s population shrank by 644,000 from 2020 to 2021, the sharpest decline since 1950. Japan’s population is also aging, suggesting that the nation could face cultural and economic turmoil in the near future.
“The number of seniors aged 65 and over … increased by 188,000 year-on-year to 36,214,000,” Japan’s Nippon News Network reported in April.
“This cohort now accounts for 28.9% of the total population, which is the highest percentage on record. Within that range, the number of over-75s increased by 72,000 to 18,674,000, meaning they make up more than half of the over-65 population,” Nippon noted.