Number of Newborn Babies in Japan hits record Low in 2021 as Demographic Crisis Grows
Japan logged a record low number of newborn babies in 2021, as the nation's demographic crisis intensifies, the government said in a report on Friday.
According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, the number of babies born in Japan in the recording year hit a record low of 811,604. The figure was down 29,231 from a year earlier, the ministry said, with 2021's figure marking the lowest number of newborn babies since record-keeping began in 1899.
The latest data also showed that the number of couples getting married decreased in the recording period by 24,391 to 501,116, the fewest in the postwar era, the ministry said.
In addition, the ministry also said that according to the most recent figures, the number of children a woman will bear in her lifetime retreated by 0.03 points from 2020 to 1.30 in 2021.
Japan is facing a demographic crisis, with its society rapidly shrinking due to factors such as the drastically declining birthrate and the falling number of people getting married.
At the same time, the number of senior citizens is growing, meaning a gradual yet persistent hollowing out of Japan's workforce-aged people, with mounting social welfare costs to cater to the need of the growing number of senior citizens, which adds to economic and social pressures.
The government has taken measures to remedy the crisis but to little effect. Some state efforts have been made to increase the number of daycare centers so that after maternity leave women can return to their jobs.
Other incentives have included allowing fathers to take paternity leave, so the burden of responsibility of raising the child in its first days and months doesn't fall solely on the women.
In theory, the mother could return to work while her husband continues with his paternity leave, but the move has yet to gain traction in patriarchal Japan, anthropologists here said.
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