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Japan’s birth rate hits ‘critical’ new low for eighth straight year, as demographic crisis looms

Japan’s health ministry described the nation’s birth rate as “critical” on Wednesday as it hit a record low for the eighth straight year, with the government moving to improve support for parents.

The ministry released data showing that Japan’s birth rate – the average number of children a woman is expected to have in her life – stood at 1.20 last year, well below the 2.1 children needed to maintain the population.

The figure was down from 1.26 in 2022 and was the eighth consecutive yearly decline in the country of 124 million people.

“The continuing decline in the birth rate is a critical situation,” a health ministry official in charge of the data said.

“Various factors, such as economic instability and difficulties in juggling work and child-rearing,” can be blamed for the falling figures, she said.

Declining birth rates are a common trend in developed countries, and Japan’s rate is still above that of its neighbour South Korea, which has the world’s lowest at 0.72.

However, with the world’s oldest population after Monaco, Japan is scrambling for ways to encourage a baby boom to avert a looming demographic crisis.

Parliament approved on Wednesday, revisions to laws to provide more financial support for parents, improved access to childcare services and expanded parental leave benefits.


Japan’s population falls rapidly in 2023, losing the equivalent of San Francisco

It was the latest government push to boost birth rates, an issue that Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has highlighted as an urgent risk to Japanese society.

Among Japan’s initiatives to boost the birth rate is a dating app developed by the Tokyo city government that will be launched as soon as this summer.

Users will be required to submit documentation proving they