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No. of births in Japan in first half of 2021 at 405,000, lowest since 2000

The central government building housing the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare is seen in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward. (Mainichi/Kimi Takeuchi)

TOKYO -- The number of births in Japan in the first half of 2021 was 405,029, the lowest preliminary figure for such a period since 2000, according to the Vital Statistics released by the health ministry on Aug. 24.

    The estimated total number of births in 2020 was 840,832, a record low, but it may fall below the 800,000 mark in 2021. One of the reasons for this has been pointed out as the impact of the spread of the coronavirus.

    According to preliminary figures, the number of births between January and June 2021 was 25,680 fewer than the 430,709 births during the same period in 2020, a decrease of about 6%.

    The total number of births in the first two months of this year was 123,531, down 12.6% from a year earlier, which was a particularly large drop and pushed down the overall figure. In June, 71,031 babies were born, down 2.7% from last year.

    The preliminary figures include the number of foreigners living in Japan and Japanese nationals living abroad, while the approximate and final figures to be released in the future will be calculated only from the number of Japanese living in Japan, and thus will be lower than the preliminary figures.

    The coronavirus pandemic has had a significant economic impact on the younger generation, and its negative influence on childbirth and child rearing has been pointed out, including to force some to "refrain from giving birth." In 2020, the number of pregnancy notifications continued to be lower than the previous year.

    An official at the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare showed concern, saying, "It can be said that the impact of the coronavirus is beginning to show in the actual number of births. The trend of declining birthrates is likely to advance further."

    The number of deaths in the first half of 2021 was 728,944, an increase of 37,986 compared to the same period of last year. In 2020, the number of deaths decreased for the first time in 11 years under the influence of measures to prevent coronavirus infection and other factors, but in 2021, the figure began to increase again.

    (Japanese original by Satoko Nakagawa, Lifestyle and Medical News Department)

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