The number of babies born in Japan slumped to a record low in 2014, BBC News reported, citing health ministry figures.
There were 1,001,000 newborns — 9,000 fewer than in 2013.
The number has fallen for four years in a row while the estimated number of deaths continues to rise, at just under 1.3 million last year.
Some estimates say that by 2050 the population could fall by 30 million to as low as 97 million.
A decline in the number of people aged between 15 to 64 is predicted to shrink Japan’s gross domestic product.
That, in turn, is expected to harm the pension system and other elements of social welfare, the BBC said.
Some communities in rural areas may simply die out.
A further drop in the number of children is inevitable as “the number of reproductive-age women is on the decline”, Kyodo News quoted an official at the health ministry as saying.
Government figures revealed in April that Japan’s population shrank for the third year in a row, with the elderly making up a quarter of the total for the first time.
People aged 65 or over will make up nearly 40 percent of the population in 2060, the government has warned.
Reasons cited for the population decline include:
1. The rising cost of childbirth and child-raising;
2. The increasing number of women in the workforce;
3. The later average age of marriage;
4. The increasing number of unmarried people;
5. Changes in the housing environment and in social customs.
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