Only 946,060 babies were born in Japan in 2017, a record low since official records began in 1899, while an increase in deaths accelerated the population decline.
According to statistics released by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare on June 1, the number of deaths rose to 1,340,433, the most since the end of World War II, as the Japanese population continues to age.
A natural population decline of 394,373, calculated by deducting the number of births from the number of deaths, was seen in 2017, representing the largest drop ever recorded.
The number of births fell by 30,918 from the previous year, marking the second straight year in which the figure was below 1 million.
One factor behind the trend is the fact that people had fewer babies after second-generation baby boomers were born between 1971 and 1974, resulting in the declining number of women of childbearing age.
While the number of women aged from 25 to 39 decreased by 262,964, or 2.5 percent, from the previous year, the ministry estimates “the trend will continue in the future, inevitably leading to a declining number of births.”
In addition, Japanese women currently give birth to fewer children in their lifetime.
The total fertility rate, or the average number of children a woman is expected to give birth to in her lifetime, was 1.43, down 0.01 point from the previous year. The figure is far below 2.07, the level that should be reached to maintain the population.
Although the fertility rate for women aged between 35 and 49 rose slightly year-on-year, the ratio dropped among those 34 years old or younger.
By prefecture, Okinawa had the highest fertility rate at 1.94, followed by 1.73 for Miyazaki and 1.72 for Shimane. Tokyo had the lowest ratio, at 1.21.
Meanwhile, the number of elderly individuals aged 65 or over increased by about 560,000 to 35.15 million in 2017 from a year earlier, accounting for 28 percent of the Japanese population, up 4 percentage points compared with five years ago.
In the statistics, those who died in 2017 were split into five-year age groups. The number of deaths rose for all groups 70 years or older on a year-on-year basis to a total of 1,116,476, accounting for 83 percent of all deaths.
Source : http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201806190001.html