World Bulletin / News Desk
This year marked the first time that the number of births in Japan fell below 1 million, according to local media Thursday.
Kyodo news agency cited government sources in reporting that the estimated number of newborn babies in the country in 2016 was recorded at around 980,000.
Japan first fell below the replacement rate as far back as 1974 but the cross-over year, when deaths began to exceed births, was not until 2005.
Every year since 2007 has witnessed a higher number of deaths compared to births.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government is seeking to increase the total fertility rate -- which hit a 21-year high of 1.45 in 2015 -- to 1.8 children per woman by around 2025.
According to Kyodo, 1,005,677 babies were born in 2015 compared to 1,290,444 deaths -- leading to a natural population drop of 284,767.
However, the number of births is expected to fall as the country’s population continues to age and the number of women in their 20s and 30s declines.
Some 40 of Japan’s 47 prefectures have suffered losses in population.
The country is seen as a kind of harbinger of what could happen to other nations with low fertility rates. While many other countries in Asia and Western Europe have low fertility rates, and others in Eastern Europe have declining populations, Japan’s decline is most advanced.
Abe’s cabinet approved Thursday a record-high budget of 97.45 trillion yen ($831 billion) for the 2017 fiscal year, of which 73.93 trillion yen was set aside for policy spending in the general account -- the largest percentage of it to cover spending on social security.Güncelleme Tarihi: 22 Aralık 2016, 11:25