The number of babies born in Japan and Japanese expats in the January-June period fell 5.0% from a year earlier to less than 400,000 for the first time since 2000, amid the lingering impact of the coronavirus pandemic, according to recent government data.
The number of births during the period suggests the annual total for the world’s third-largest economy is on course to fall below last year’s 811,604 and below 800,000 for the first time since the government started compiling data in 1899.
In the first six months of the year, 384,942 babies were born, down 20,087 from the same period last year, according to preliminary data released by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Business. social on September 4.
The data includes figures for Japanese nationals living abroad and foreigners residing in Japan.
The number of births in January increased compared to the previous year, but decreased in the following months until June.
A 2022 white paper on falling birth rates published by the Cabinet Office said the spread of the new coronavirus had weighed on the number of marriages and pregnancies, adding that people in their twenties and thirties had become more concerned by marriage, income, jobs and families than other age groups compared to before the pandemic.
The number of marriages in the January-June period increased slightly by 243 from the previous year to 265,593, but the figure was still down more than 50,000 from 2019, before the start of the global health crisis, according to the data.
The annual number of newborns, which has been on a downward trend since the mid-1970s, is falling faster than the government predicted.
The National Institute for Population and Social Security Research said in 2017 the figure would be around 850,000 in 2022 and fall below 800,000 in 2030.
Falling births are adding pressure on the government, which is grappling with soaring social security spending to cover pensions and medical care for the elderly in a rapidly aging society.