February 04
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The number of children born in Japan this year is below last year's record low, in what a senior government official called a critical situation.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno promised comprehensive measures to encourage more marriages and births.

He said a total of 599,636 Japanese people were born in January-September, down 4.9 percent from last year, suggesting that the number of births for all of 2022 could fall below last year's record low of 811,000 children, ABC News reported.

Japan is the third largest economy in the world, but the cost of living is high and wage growth has been slow. The conservative government has failed to make society more inclusive of children, women and minorities.

Many young Japanese refuse to marry or start families, discouraged by bleak job prospects, burdensome commutes and a corporate culture incompatible with both parents' jobs.

The number of births has been declining since 1973, when it peaked at about 2.1 million. It is projected to fall to 740,000 by 2040.

Japan's population of more than 125 million people has been declining for 14 years and is projected to drop to 86.7 million by 2060. A shrinking and aging population has enormous implications for the economy and national security.

Last week, the commission presented a report to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida that identified low birth rates and shrinking populations as factors that could undermine Japan's national strength.

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