Japan's birthrate falls to record-low in 2004

Tokyo (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Japan's birthrate fell to a record low of 1.28 in 2004, the fourth straight year it has done so, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun said: birthrate is the number of children each woman gives birth to in her lifetime

The rate will be officially released soon by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare as part of its demographic report for 2004.

An estimated 1,107,000 babies were born in Japan last year, down 17,000 from 2003 in the fourth straight annual drop. The number of newborn babies is the lowest since the nation's demographic statistics were first published in 1899.

To address the falling birthrate, the government has worked to improve child-care facilities and implemented other measures designed to make child-rearing easier, it said.

But those efforts have apparently failed to stem declining births, the Nihon Keizai said, adding that people were marrying later in life, and an increasing number of women were choosing not to get married and not to have children.

The birthrate has continued to fall since 1995, when the number was 1.42, to 1.29 in 2003, the first dip below 1.3, it said.