Take our user survey and make your voice heard.
national

Number of births in Japan hits record low in 2023

65 Comments
By Kiyoshi Takenaka and Satoshi Sugiyama

The requested article has expired, and is no longer available. Any related articles, and user comments are shown below.

© Thomson Reuters 2024.

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

65 Comments
Login to comment

Never mind!

Japanese stocks are at a record high.

The government has no choice but to bring in more foreigners otherwise roads and bridges and the elderly etc won’t get necessary care-its only a matter of time

-3 ( +11 / -14 )

fell 5.1% from a year earlier to 758,631

And then there were none.

-4 ( +13 / -17 )

These numbers, although presented in an article of just two paragraphs, are disturbing.

The socioeconomic consequences/outcomes to society, future healthcare provision, education, employment, The three most important essential variables income, education, occupation that maintain a future support monetary, fiscal (taxation) structure, pensions, health care in old age is clearly at risk.

I would like to see a more legislative, focus drive effort from government to set in motion direct family incentivised policies.

No more panels of so called experts to chatter.

A new approach is necessary, a form of social contract so young families are seen to be fully supported.

Free Day care, health care, schooling etc.

I know, this will require tax payers to bear the brunt. Employers need also to support encourage a clear work life balance to all staff.

11 ( +18 / -7 )

Come on. You cannot be a patriotic Japanese if you are willing to see your country die out. It does not compute. Time to get yourself a better income and a spouse and have some kids.

-18 ( +5 / -23 )

it is sad to know that, but to tackle this issue, Japan just need to open the immigration gate and within the short period of times the population number will shoot rocket high. That's why the iron rules of passing the JLPT N1 is super important, you need to ensure people coming in accepting the Japanese culture, learn their language, and not just any tom dick and harry. After so many years i still on the road to N1, keep going and never give up!

2 ( +13 / -11 )

Tokyo alone has more people than Canada.

There won't be people starving, the country is not going to fall apart.

Stop the drama already.

18 ( +30 / -12 )

The government has no choice but to bring in more foreigners otherwise roads and bridges and the elderly etc won’t get necessary care-its only a matter of time

Japan just need to open the immigration gate and within the short period of times the population number will shoot rocket high. 

I may be way off, but I suspect Japanese are not interested in accepting mass immigration.

Japanese people are consciously de-populating - showing the world that society can continue ticking along just fine with a falling population. The future they can see is one of more space, easier to enter schools and universities, less crowded trains, restaurants and shops etc. Multiple jobs to choose from. Cleaner nature. Less CO2 emissions.

Furthermore, robotics and AI will replace all of the manual factory, farming and delivery jobs within a decade or so. I believe this is not the "crisis" these stories keep insisting it is.

7 ( +18 / -11 )

I may be way off, but I suspect Japanese are not interested in accepting mass immigration.

There was a quote of the day talking about that recently. It basically said Japan has been observing certain European countries and doesn't like what they see regarding immigration there.

Ask the person beside you on the train and Id bet you a meal for two at the London air fry restaurant they would say ちょっと whilst drawing air through their teeth.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

I'm sure many of we foreigners here have done our bit in helping to maintain the population of Japan. Time for more Japanese to step up.

-4 ( +11 / -15 )

Important to note, even official birth count is 'goosed',

Includes ALL babies born OUTSIDE Japan to 1/2 JN's. Most will never live in Japan. Example? Naomi Osaka, tennis star's kid born in 2023. Number of kids approx. 70K, or approx. 10% of official birth count.

Number includes approx. 50K of gaijin/foreign babies born in Japan, many will not remain long term. Gaijins rate of babies like Okinawa, approx. 15 per 1000 per/yr.

JN's born in Japan, about 600K, about replacement population of South Korea if it STABILIZES. Clearly marriages and kids continue to drop like a rock...

-1 ( +8 / -9 )

The government has no choice

Of course they have a choice and they’ve already made it…. roads and bridges and the elderly etc won’t get necessary care.   But this will not affect corporate profits next month, nor the LDP’s hold on power, so it’s fine. “Ganbatte, grandpa, Toyota appreciates your willingness to die alone in poverty.”

And no sympathy, Japan votes for this, time after time.

-5 ( +7 / -12 )

Wait! So the child allowances are not working?!

11 ( +13 / -2 )

 otherwise roads and bridges... etc won’t get necessary care

Japan's infrastructure is miles ahead of most other countries', with much of the ongoing improvements made while the population stagnated and declined.

Plenty of the high-immigration countries, by contrast, are experiencing infrastructure and social services overwhelmed and worsening, Canada, UK, US, etc.

The idea that a developed economy needs more and more people for its survival is one of the biggest - and most dangerous - myths out there. The global rankings for highest socio-economic levels are dominated by small population countries, like Luxemburg, Denmark, Norway, etc. That's no coincidence.

7 ( +14 / -7 )

This is not news really, rinse and repeat every year. Low birth rate and old folks driving around running over people and not even realizing someone is under their car, wonderful! But keep reporting on all the tourists returning to the "great" Japan.

-6 ( +9 / -15 )

Although Japan is often discussed, the fertility rates of European countries are also quite low. Even France, which is full of immigrants and has been considered an honor student in fertility rate, is 1.68. Spain, Italy, and other countries are lower than Japan. Some people attribute the decline in the fertility rate mainly to long working hours and poverty, but the number of working hours has been decreasing significantly, and the fertility rate was higher during the poorer years of the 20th century. Also, poor developing countries have very high fertility rates. In the end, the main cause is probably that developed countries have too much entertainment and have lost interest in marriage and having children.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

Tokyo alone has more people than Canada.

There won't be people starving, the country is not going to fall apart.

Stop the drama already.

Finally, someone with common sense and brains..

-5 ( +8 / -13 )

Wait! So the child allowances are not working?!

It seems like it, doesn't it? I too wonder why the child allowance expansions announced for October 2024 did not work in 2023.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Demographic problem, like financial/property 'bubble' bursting in 1990's, the collateral societal damage continues for a long time. Biggest problem, FAR LESS incentive to invest or own with a shrinking market.

How and how soon can re-establishing a demographic equilibrium be achieved, the key open questions.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

Japan's Galapagos culture capture has no merit or appeal in a world dominated by global standards and values that corporations demand. Japanese know it.

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

When I was visiting Mongolia in the 80s there were many women walking around with medals as patriotic mothers of the nation, having had multiple children. Maybe it would work in Japan. Maybe for fathers too.

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

Tei Uka

I too wonder why the child allowance expansions announced for October 2024 did not work in 2023.

That’s because you obviously don’t realize that children allowances have been dolled out in Japan for over a decade!

6 ( +8 / -2 )

This is great news in an already grossly over populated country and indeed planet.

-8 ( +5 / -13 )

The idea that a developed economy needs more and more people for its survival is one of the biggest - and most dangerous - myths out there. The global rankings for highest socio-economic levels are dominated by small population countries, like Luxemburg, Denmark, Norway, etc. That's no coincidence.

Precisely. But the one party monopoly LDP, descended from pre-war Showa militarists, still thinks it needs more cannon fodder for the corporate machine to elevate their parasitic lifestyles.

Japan could be a democratic socialist broad based prosperity nation like those nations you mention if it did away with the deadwood LDP politician and Japan Inc. exec class who unproductively drain all the wealth.

Then Japan could have a prosperous steady state of births.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

Not surprising considering the crippling taxes. No one can afford to start a family. Get rid of consumption tax!

-1 ( +9 / -10 )

The real wealth of a nation surely must be represented by the number of its children. Without children a nation will seek to exist eventually. Wake up Japan!

0 ( +5 / -5 )

125,000,000 is more than enough, it's not numbers it's being useful and productive building a happy society.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

UK is now under 1.50. It seems like Japan is just getting to the future faster than other developing countries.

As welfare provisions are slashed worldwide, I suspect there may be increasing interest in having kids so they can look after you in old age. Retirement homes are phenomenally expensive, way beyond the state's ability to pay for the increasing cohort of people living longer.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Maybe the alarmists last week were right and Japanese have been listening too much to those voluntary extinction philosophers that they decried. Maybe their arguments are so persuasive after all.

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

It would be enlightening to hear from some of the downvoters the reasons why they don't have kids though.

-5 ( +8 / -13 )

Immigration for low skilled learning patterns that are not dependent on an ability to communicate in Japanese, in agricultural field work still requires even the basic knowledge of language.

Mass immigration, the relaxation to fulfil the need to imbue a loss of indigenous workers is simply flawed a failure to understand, not only the culture and language, but also the requirement to integrate into the community.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

A few things about this article bother me.

First, it says "out-of-wedlock births are rare in Japan." Not from what I've read on JT about abandoned and dead babies.

Second, what does the government consider as "unprecedented steps" to cope with the declining birthrate? Expanding childcare and promoting wage hikes for younger workers doesn't solve the problem of the continuously declining birthrate. And for Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi to say, "the next six years or so until 2030, when the number of young people will rapidly decline, will be the last chance to reverse the trend."

Six years? To reverse what's really an irreversible trend? Pie in the sky, that one! Unless, of course, he's talking forced pregnancies. Can you see that coming? Kidnap all the young women of childbearing age and use IVF to impregnate them?

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Women prefer to enjoy their career and leisure, what do you do about it ? This is the only common link with all countries having their population to decrease. Prove me wrong. It is not about my opinion or yours, it is factual.

And Japanese population will not stop at 70 million...

Maths is no magic.

People with children should be praised as they bring the future. Only the living can mold it. Making a life and bringing up children should be considered the highest honor.

So easy to make a career at the expense of society.

-2 ( +6 / -8 )

"...and we'll die on this sword before we'll ever allow any meaningful immigration! 天皇陛下万歳 !!"

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

..the country is not going to fall apart.

Stop the drama already.

Contrary to this cavalier comment, Niigata, where I live, is rightfully concerned about its ability to maintain services and infrastructure over the coming years. Of the prefecture's 30 municipalities, 14 are expecting a drop in the working-age population to exceed 50% during the period 2020-2050, with the prefecture as a whole anticipating a 40% decline in that demographic.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

@finally rich true the country is not going to fall apart, ITS NOT THE COUNTRY ITS THE PEOPLE! Last man standing! It's already playing out right before your eyes! No drama reality!

Tokyo alone has more people than Canada.

There won't be people starving, the country is not going to fall apart.

Stop the drama already.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Contrary to this cavalier comment, Niigata, where I live, is rightfully concerned about its ability to maintain services and infrastructure over the coming years. Of the prefecture's 30 municipalities, 14 are expecting a drop in the working-age population to exceed 50% during the period 2020-2050, with the prefecture as a whole anticipating a 40% decline in that demographic.

In some towns, it looks like their working age population will fall to around a third of the 1995ish peak by 2050.

https://ecitizen.jp/Population/Prefecture/15

Aside from a collapsing tax base, you're also looking at huge inertia to keep doing things that are no longer feasible, leading to energy being wasted and malinvestments being made.

fwiw, Niigata, effectively the "rice basket", was Japan's most populous prefecture in the year 1900. More people than even Tokyo. Japanese population in 1900 was only about 41 million.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

Less resource consumption is not bad for a overpopulated world. True, there are many problems too that comes with reduce population, but overall is still a good thing both for nature and the country.

Now if only the government is willing to reduce taxes too and give out lands for more space to live in. Then we truly would have a paradise. The taxes is what killing us. Stop spending so much of our tax money on foreign policies and charity and instead focus more on the population. Best is to also to remove the US troops which are clearly freeloading at this point. Not to mention the pollution and noises they cause.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

If Japan willing to accept immigration as a state policy, guess where these massive immigrants came from ?

The immigrants who has similar cultures and languages with Japanese?

Answer: The Chinese, that means the Peoples Republic of China is going to take over Japan !

-7 ( +5 / -12 )

If you are suggesting that immigrants need to achieve N1 level before arriving to Japan say 歡迎 to plenty of Chinese who have a foundation in kanji.

I'm pretty sure any J government would prefer a more well-rounded mix with some Filipino, Indonesian and Nepali applicants as well judging by some of the folks I have bumped into while traveling around Japan.

That's why the iron rules of passing the JLPT N1 is super important

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Japan needs to follow the UK's lead, where net migration is 500k in 2023.

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

@Chikabun

Japanese don't understand irony for your information.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

At this point, they're beating a dead horse. The country is never going to be able to get their birth rates back up because there are just too many factors that hinder the ability and desire to raise a family. They should just give up and find other means of adding to the population cough immigration cough

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

Japan needs to follow the UK's lead, where net migration is 500k in 2023.

The UK net immigration was actually 672,000 in 2023 (from the Home Office). Yet, the nation has slipped into recession.

The idea of allowing mass immigration in order to boost the economy is poor one. Japanese people look at these trends in Europe, and are very wary of ever going down this path.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

There is little or no logical cultural socioeconomical comparisons between UK Japan, employment language that either encourages or discourages migration.

Managing a policy that positively encourages skilled migration settlement requires support and investment. HR

However has drawbacks, when a company business must invest in its homegrown talent, school-leavers. etc

Must be a balance.

Japan is not remotely, simply, a easy fit for migration. It isn't.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

The infrastructure to train and educate is not developed enough for large numbers of foreigners.

It would require massive change and investment which the Japanese government has never undertaken even with its own population.

A visit to any Japanese school will enlighten any as to the meagre resources allocated to education here.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Too many people just don't get it - Japanese women are consciously deciding to limit the number of children they have or not have children at all. Japan is a first world country with far more equality for women than many other countries although it hasn't gone down the path of feminist policies/governance in EU countries or the US or Australia for example.

Note - the biggest producers of children are in Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan. 12 children is not unusual just like in poor countries. The affluent are not having many or any children and as a rich country, Japan is following this trend. You can't force women to have children in first world countries. Rightly.

Sure Japan needs factory workers, agricultural workers, construction workers, care workers etc especially because of the low birth rate. The answer is not mass immigration nor a lot of it for many good reasons specific to Japan. The answer is not yet more freebies from tax burdens imposed on low/middle income workers.

The answer is to have more training colleges and incentives for young/younger people to study there and provide the people power for those industries. Japan has just abut no mature age students who return to study - time to do it just like in western countries where college/university demographics include students over 30.

For foreign workers, recruit better, cut out the middle men who skim the fees and treat the foreign workers like dirt.

If a country is willing to allow its citizens to be exploited in trainee and other programs in Japan, the Japanese Govt needs to cut them out of the market and say we won't do business with you anymore. This will result in better salaries and less problems. Give the possibility of longer working visas and permanent residency for suitable foreign workers who are doing jobs in key industries where there is a shortage of Japanese. It aint rocket science.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

It's not really a total population issue here in Japan. 80m or 125m doesn't matter hugely to the health of the society overall.

However it's a massively worrying ratio of the demograpics which will hurt innovation, lifestyle, elderly care, retirements and the overall health of the Japanese economy and sense of joy that is hardest to bear witness to.

Countries where 30 - 50% of their population are below 30 years old are much more lively, dynamic and fun and tend to have happier and more joyful societies.

Cafes, art, music, dancing etc etc abound. In very greying societies, it's bleak and things get stagnant very, very fast.

The amount of dilapidated homes and shops around rural Japan is astonishing. It's only reasonable as elderly people don't generally have the will or stamina to fix things up. They lament theoss of their young to the bigger cities, as are left out to dry and die alone without the laughter of children.

A good ratio across demographics helps every member of society.

Without a rapid birthrate, Japan will need immigration of some young blood infused into it, to survive as a counrty anyone would want to live work or travel to.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Japan's fertility rate actually went below replacement in the early 1970s. The consequence is that the number of biriths is decreasing and accelerating over each generation. We are in a period of population exponential decline.

The primary cause for the exponential population decline is the education of women and encouraging them to focus on their careers. Living in a city, alone in a tiny apartment doesn't help.

And the falling fertility rate is a world-wide trend. Immigration will solve nothing and may create more issues such as less social cohesion.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

It’s too difficult to find suitable appartments to live with children in Japan. When you try to find a 2 bedroom apartment in Tokyo, the rent goes way over $5000 a month. If you pay so much for rent, you won’t have money to live. One child maybe manageable living in a one bedroom, although it gets too tight as the child grows.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Next year, the headline can stay the same, just put in 2024. The following year, put in 2025. Rinse and repeat again and again.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

I think the problem is not so much that you get fewer workers, but that you get fewer consumers and fewer people paying taxes. It is like a village when the young people start to move away. Fewer consumers means that the stores start closing, fewer kids means that the schools start closing, less taxes means that the public services will start to struggle.

Perhaps 80 million is a moresustainable population, but the shrinking will probably be far from pleasant.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

> JeffLeeFeb. 27 06:36 pm JST

otherwise roads and bridges... etc won’t get necessary care

> Japan's infrastructure is miles ahead of most other countries', with much of the ongoing improvements made while the population stagnated and declined.

> Plenty of the high-immigration countries, by contrast, are experiencing infrastructure and social services overwhelmed and worsening, Canada, UK, US, etc.

Your comparison has nothing to do with high immigration. Comparing Japan's size to the UK's is understandable but comparing it to massive countries like the U.S. and Canada is ridiculous. I always see people comparing things that are not in the same category and this is one of them. Japan is lucky they don't have to field a real military to counter China, North Korea and Russia. That alone would cost so much that all the shiny public works projects you see like bullet trains and the Aqauline would be a lot harder to have and probably impossible. America is also like 24 times the size, with thousands more bridges, rivers to cross, tens of thousands more miles of roads and the list could go on forever. A bear and an otter both have fur but a bear has a lot more fur to clean.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The number of births fell 5.1% from a year earlier to 758,631, while the number of marriages slid 5.9% to 489,281 -- the first time in 90 years the number fell below 500,000 -- foreboding a further decline in the population as out-of-wedlock births are rare in Japan.

Well of course... that's because they abort them!

1 ( +3 / -2 )

The number of births fall below the previous year every year. That's why it is a problem.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I foresee women's right in the near future (2050) to become a high political debate. Mark my words.

Especially in Japan.

This is not a personal opinion, it is a logical result of a situation.

No children no future.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

deanzaZZRToday  01:27 am JST

If you are suggesting that immigrants need to achieve N1 level before arriving to Japan say 歡迎 to plenty of Chinese who have a foundation in kanji.

An often stated fallacy made by those not in the know. that because Chinese use Kanji they can pick up Japanese easily. Chinese uses far more Kanji characters than Japan, but they don't have the near ridiculous different ways of reading the same character. Couple that with hiragana and katakana, plus the fact that many Chinese are used to the Simplified Chinese characters unknown in Japan plus a different grammatical structure. In fact Chinese syntax is closer to English.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

It's worth noting is that immigration is WAY up in Japan, FY 2022, 300k, FY 2023 ending March 31st next month, likely somewhere b/w 2 and 3X HIGHER, even 1M possible, companies crying for workers, drivers, hotels, tourism, construction, farming and highly skilled etc.

FY 2022, record for immigration, this year a new record, as Govt. trying to stabilize population and workforce decline. Otherwise, economy & Govt. revenues collapse.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Sure babies needed, but they take 18 years at minimum to hit workforce, no time for Japan to wait around. Keep in mind, Japan's GDP relative to Global GDP in dollars, about 8x smaller than 1990, even with massive ongoing Govt. deficit spending, still sinking like a rock.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

It's worth noting is that immigration is WAY up in Japan, FY 2022, 300k, FY 2023 ending March 31st next month, likely somewhere b/w 2 and 3X HIGHER, even 1M possible

Possible? Yes. Likely? No. The first few months of 2023 for which we already have data show no drastic increase in immigration. Between January and June 2023 there were 148,645 new foreign residents, around 25,000 per month and very much in line with the numbers we have seen in 2022. What reason do you have to believe that, starting July, that number has quadrupled (to reach a million by March 2024)? Any source that would hint at that?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

HopeSpringsEternalToday  08:48 pm JST

Finally, dirty little secret, entire global digital/DX economy runs on English based software, all this talk of culture and language, tell that to Corps. running world, science and technology culture creating the innovation, etc. The global culture is success, not Galapagos legacy.

Name ONE Corp. that says our 'culture's' country based? There's your answer, culture capture = economic suicide.

To finish my though, more people will result in Japan (and other countries) with success, both immigrants and kids, Japan needs to wake up to above reality. Insanity, doing the same thing and expecting different result.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

The global rankings for highest socio-economic levels are dominated by small population countries, like Luxemburg, Denmark, Norway, etc. That's no coincidence.

None of them are as big as even New York State, much less California or Alaska. They are all relatively small countries and they could not do it on a big scale. That's no coincidence either

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Between January and June 2023 there were 148,645 new foreign residents, around 25,000 per month and very much in line with the numbers we have seen in 2022. What reason do you have to believe that, starting July, that number has quadrupled (to reach a million by March 2024)? Any source that would hint at that?

There have been articles in JT, number of new immigrants between April and Sept of 2023, GREATER than April 2022 to March 2023's record of 300K.

Obviously, we don't know how FY 2023 will end up, we know in the first half it exceeded 300K by some margin.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Economic development and population increase seem to be intertwined with each other very closely. So, countries with a declining birth rate will have no bright future for economic development as against countries with an increasing population.  

That's how entrepreneur Elon Musk sees the future of Japan.

But the decline of a birth rate is not Japan's problem alone. It will hit every country sooner or later. Population and economic growth would not go hand in hand forever, as Musk optimistically hopes they will.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I wonder when they count the numbers is it only "pure" Japanese people who both parents are Japanese or do they count half Japanese children that are born and raised here. I think Japan has to face it and realized this country might just start getting more and more mixed. I myself is half Japanese and on paper no different from a pure Japanese person but if i had a kid with a Japanese person I wonder if my child would count in there statistics.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites