Low birth rate has Japan on ‘verge’ of societal collapse, prime minister warns

by WorldTribune Staff, January 24, 2023

Births in Japan plunged to a new record low last year, dropping below 800,000 for the first time, according to official estimates.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida / Video Image

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the country, which has a population of 125 million, must take urgent steps to tackle the declining birth rate, declaring it a “now or never” moment for one of the world’s oldest societies.

Kishida said at a Jan. 23 special address to the National Diet, the country’s legislature: “Japan is standing on the verge of whether we can continue to function as a society.”

The median age in Japan is 49, the highest in the world behind only the tiny city-state of Monaco. Demographers say that, by 2050, Japan could lose a fifth of its current population.

Kishida said he would submit plans to double the budget for child-related policies by June, and that a new Children and Families government agency to oversee the issue would be set up in April.

“Focusing attention on policies regarding children and child-rearing is an issue that cannot wait and cannot be postponed,” Kishida said.

Japan is the third-most-expensive country globally to raise a child, according to YuWa Population Research, behind only China and South Korea.

Last week, the Chinese government published demographic data showing that the communist country’s population had declined over the previous year, for the first time in six decades. The news surprised many academics who projected that China would not experience such a precipitous drop for another decade.

“I don’t think there is a single country that has gone as low as China in terms of fertility rate and then bounced back to the replacement rate,” Philip O’Keefe, a professor at the University of California, Irvine and demography expert, told the New York Times.

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