Births in Japan Slip below 800,000 for 1st Time

REUTERS file photo
A baby holds a Japanese national flag outside the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, May 4, 2019.

Tokyo, Feb. 28 (Jiji Press)—The number of babies born in Japan in 2022 slipped below 800,000 for the first time to hit a record low, the health ministry said Tuesday.

The number fell by 43,169, or 5.1 pct, from the previous year to 799,728, the lowest since the ministry started collecting the data in 1899, it said in a preliminary report.

The number of births is falling at a pace faster than the government expected. The ministry’s National Institute of Population and Social Security Research estimated in 2017 that the number of newborns, including babies foreign residents gave birth to, would fall below 800,000 for the first time in 2033.

The latest result may have been affected by postwar lows in the number of marriages registered in 2020 and 2021. The coronavirus pandemic and price surges apparently added fuel to the trend to avoid pregnancy.

The pandemic has caused people to worry about giving birth and raising newborns, potentially affecting the number of births, a health ministry official said.

The number of deaths in 2022 increased by 129,744, or 8.9 pct, to 1,582,033, posting another record high.

Japan’s natural population decrease, or the number of deaths minus that of births, came to 782,305, topping 700,000 for the first time.

The number of marriages in 2022 rose 1.1 pct to 519,823, logging the first growth in three years.

The annual number of newborns topped 2 million during the first baby boom between 1947 and 1949 and the second baby boom between 1971 and 1974. After falling below the threshold in 1975, the number has been on the decline.

The number of births fell below one million in 2016 and 900,000 in 2019.

The preliminary data cover Japanese in Japan, foreign residents in Japan and Japanese living abroad. Final newborn figures will be smaller than the numbers reported in the preliminary report because they will only cover Japanese living in Japan.

The number of births in 2022 is expected to come between 760,000 and 780,000 on a final basis, ministry officials said.