Japanese Fertility Rate Dives to a Shocking 1.25 Percent
Thursday, June 15, 2006 Posted: 04:28 PM JST
Japan's total fertility rate hit a record low of 1.25 in 2005, the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare announced on June 1. Falling even below the 1.29 measured in 2004. Especially troubling was Tokyo's rate, which at 0.98 for the first time dropped below the 1.0 mark.
Last year a total of 1,063,000 babies were born in Japan, 48,000 fewer than the year before. Deaths outnumbered births by 21,000. As a result natural population growth fell below zero for the first time since statistics started in 1899. This means that Japan's population decline has started two years earlier than forecast. This will have serious effects on pension, medical, family-care and other social security schemes, as well as the Japanese economy and society.
The newly established Minister of State for Gender Equality and Social Affairs, who is responsible for dealing with the declining number of children, insists that Japan launch "radical measures." So far, Japan has done frighteningly little to confront the decline, which forecasters have seen coming for almost 20 years.
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