Births in Japan Fall to New Low
The number of babies born in Japan this year is below last year's record low and the government says the situation is critical.
The total of 599,636 Japanese born in January-September was 4.9% below the number born in the first nine months last year. Based on this, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said that the number of births in all of 2022 might fall below last year's record low of 811,000 babies.
Matsuno said that the situation was critical and promised changes to encourage more marriages and births.
Japan is the world's third biggest economy but living costs are high and pay increases have been slow.
So far, the government has tried to encourage people to have more babies by paying subsidies for pregnancy, childbirth and child care, but this has not had much impact.
Many younger Japanese are reluctant to marry or have families because of poor job prospects and a business culture that doesn't allow both parents to work.
The number of births in Japan was at its highest in 1973 at about 2.1 million, and it has been falling since. It is estimated it will fall to 740,000 in 2040.
Japan's population of more than 125 million has been decreasing for 14 years and it is estimated it will fall to 86.7 million by 2060. Japan is also getting older with more than 28% of the population now aged over 65. These changes are likely to have a huge impact on the economy and Japan's national security.