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The number of births in Japan hit a historic low in 2023, dropping to the lowest level since records began in 1899. The government warns that the next six years leading up to 2030 represent a critical period to reverse this downward trend.

Statistics on Births and Marriages:

Births fell for the eighth consecutive year, reaching a record low of 758,631, marking a 5.1% decline from the previous year.

Similarly, marriages decreased by 5.9% to 489,281, falling below half a million for the first time in 90 years.

Reasons for Decline:

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One of the primary factors contributing to the decline in births is the decrease in marriages. Younger Japanese cite reasons such as the high cost of living and limited job prospects for delaying marriage and starting families.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is also believed to have influenced marriage and birth rates, with people postponing major life events due to economic uncertainty and social restrictions.

Government’s Concern and Response:

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi describes the declining birth rate as a “critical state” and emphasizes the urgency of addressing it within the next six years.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has characterized the declining birth rate as a major crisis facing Japan, emphasizing the need for immediate action to support families and encourage childbirth.

The government has implemented measures to support childbirth, children, and families, including increased subsidies and benefits for childcare and parental leave, with plans to allocate 3.6 trillion yen ($36.7 billion) by 2028.

Challenges and Expert Opinions:

Despite government initiatives, experts caution that these measures may not effectively address the root causes of declining birth rates, particularly among young people who are hesitant to start families.

Births in Japan have been declining steadily since peaking at 2.1 million about 50 years ago, with the population expected to decrease by about 30% by 2070, according to projections.

Global Attention and Concern:

Elon Musk has highlighted Japan’s demographic challenges, warning that without significant changes to reverse the declining birth rate, the country may face existential threats, posing a great loss to the world.

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