The number of babies born in Japan fell an estimated 5.9 percent this year to fewer than 900,000, the first time since the government started compiling data in 1899, the welfare ministry said Tuesday.
The dwindling number of births will put more strain on welfare finances to support the snowballing costs of supporting an aging population, undermining economic growth, analysts say.
The annual total is expected to fall by some 54,000 from the 918,400 born the previous year, hitting a record low for the fourth straight year.
The expected drop below 900,000 will come two years earlier than had been projected by a research institute of the ministry.
This was the biggest decline in births since 1975, driven by the lower number of women age 25 to 39, said a ministry official in charge of compiling the data.
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Japan Shrinks by 500,000 People as Births Fall to Lowest Number Since 1874
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