Japan’s ongoing demographic crisis has reached a new level as the country’s birth rate hit a record low in 2022, marking the seventh consecutive year of decline. The health ministry’s announcement on Friday has underscored the sense of urgency gripping the nation, as the population continues to shrink and age rapidly. According to reports from Reuters, the fertility rate, which represents the average number of children born to a woman in her lifetime, dropped to 1.2565. This figure is even lower than the previous record low of 1.2601 set in 2005 and falls far below the ideal rate of 2.07 required to maintain a stable population.
Recognizing the severity of the situation, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has made reversing the declining birth rate a top priority for his government. Despite the country’s high levels of debt, Kishida’s administration plans to allocate an annual spending of 3.5 trillion yen ($25 billion) to support parents and implement childcare measures. During a recent visit to a daycare facility, Prime Minister Kishida expressed his concerns, stating, “The youth population will start decreasing drastically in the 2030s. The period until then is our last opportunity to reverse the trend of dwindling births.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated Japan’s demographic challenges, with fewer marriages in recent years contributing to the decline in births. Additionally, the pandemic has played a role in increased mortality rates, with over 47,000 deaths in Japan last year attributed to the virus. Last year, the number of newborns in Japan plummeted by 5% to a new low of 770,747, while the number of deaths soared by 9% to a record-breaking 1.57 million, as indicated by the data.