Births in Japan set to fall below 800,000 in 2022

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A woman and two children walk in a the park on Monday in Kanagawa Prefecture.

The number of births in Japan in the first 10 months of 2022 was 669,871, down by 33,827, or 4.8%, from the same period the previous year, according to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry. If this trend continues, the annual tally will likely fall below last year’s record low finalized figure of 811,622 and drop below the 800,000 line for the first time since the tallying started.

In addition to the long-term trend of a declining birthrate, this year’s decrease is believed to have been due to growing reluctance on the part of young people to marry and have children for reasons such as concern about economic conditions amid the prolonged impact of the novel coronavirus, which has been spreading since 2020.

The Yomiuri Shimbun

According to preliminary vital statistics data for October released by the ministry on Tuesday, there were 70,235 births in October, 2,894 fewer than a year ago. It was the ninth consecutive month of year-on-year decline.

In the 12 months through October, there were 809,070 births, down by 33,404 from the same period last year. A sharp drop in the number of marriages in 2020 from the previous year appears to have affected the number of births in 2022.

Meanwhile, the number of deaths in the 12 months through October, was 1,546,142, an increase of 99,045 from the same period last year.

The preliminary figure for newborns includes the number of children born to foreign nationals living in Japan and Japanese nationals living overseas, so the finalized figure, which will be released after it is narrowed down to Japanese citizens who reside in the country, is expected to be lower than the preliminary figure.

The number of births has set a new all-time low every year since 2016. It fell below 1 million in 2016 and below 900,000 in 2019.

“It is inevitable that the number of births will fall below 800,000 this year. This is because it has been declining by about 3.5% year-on-year for the past five years or so. The number of marriages has also plummeted due to the pandemic,” said Takumi Fujinami, a senior researcher at the Japan Research Institute.