Japan's total fertility rate hit record low in 2023

Japan's government statistics reveal that the total fertility rate last year dropped to the lowest since record-keeping began in 1947. The number of children a woman is expected to have during her lifetime fell to 1.20.

The health ministry released approximate demographic statistics for 2023 on Wednesday.

The total fertility rate last year was down 0.06 points from the final figure for the previous year. It also marks the eighth straight year-on-year fall.

The total fertility rate dropped in all prefectures. Tokyo posted the lowest figure of 0.99. Next was Hokkaido at 1.06, then Miyagi at 1.07. Okinawa had the highest rate of 1.60, followed by Miyazaki and Nagasaki at 1.49 and Kagoshima at 1.48.

The number of Japanese babies born last year stood at 727,277. It fell 43,482 from a year earlier and was the lowest since statistical records began in 1899.

There were 1,575,936 deaths last year. This was a record high and 6,886 more than the previous year.

The number of marriages was 474,717. The figure fell by 30,213 year on year, marking the lowest level in post-war Japan.

Ministry officials said the declining birth rate is in a critical situation. They pointed out that the period before 2030 will be the last opportunity to reverse the trend as the young population is expected to drop sharply after that.

The officials said a range of factors, such as economic instability and the difficulty of balancing work and childcare, are intertwined.

They expressed their intention to accelerate necessary measures, such as promoting the uptake of paternity leave and raising the income of younger generations.