Japan’s number of births has fallen to a new record low, amid the country’s ongoing and deepening population crisis.

According to newly released statistics from the Japanese Ministry of Health, “The country saw 799,728 births in 2022, the lowest number on record and the first ever dip below 800,000,” CNN reports. In 1982, Japan recorded over 1.5 million births.

CNN notes, “Deaths have outpaced births in Japan for more than a decade, posing a growing problem for leaders of the world’s third-largest economy. They now face a ballooning elderly population, along with a shrinking workforce to fund pensions and health care as demand from the aging population surges.”

The average “replacement rate,” or fertility rate needed for each generation to replace itself, is 2.1 births per woman. As of 2021, Japan’s fertility rate was just 1.34 – one of the lowest in the world.

Photo Credit: Google

Additionally, Japan’s population has been declining for over a decade. The country’s population reached a high of 128.1 million in 2008. As of 2021, it stands at 125.7 million.

This decline is just beginning.

Photo Credit: Google

Indeed, Japan’s leaders have been warning about a population collapse, and adopting policies to try to stem the losses. So far, those efforts have failed.

Eccentric billionaire Elon Musk is also warning about Japan’s – and the world’s – declining birth rate.

In the book Empty Planet: The Shock of Global Population Decline, researchers Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson write that Japan’s future looks bleak. And each year, it becomes bleaker. They write:

When describing the demography of Japan today, the word that often gets used is catastrophic (emphasis in original).

“By the middle of this century, Japan will be down to just over one hundred million people. By the end of this century, it will be eighty-three million – less than two thirds of its … peak,” they write.

This decline has had grave implications for the Japanese economy. According to Bricker and Ibbitson, “Workers in their twenties and thirties and forties not only produce most of the wealth that powers an economy, they consume it. Japan’s economy has been mostly stagnant for going on three decades in part because its aging population consumes less and less.”

Now, let’s be fair, most readers of the Daily Citizen are not Japanese. “Why does this matter for me?” you might be asking.

It matters, because the social and economic decline happening in Japan will soon be happening everywhere else too if it’s not already.

China and India are also below the 2.1 replacement rate, as are many other Western countries. And the countries that are above 2.1, like those in Africa and parts of the Middle East, won’t be for long.

“Everywhere, virtually without exception, birth rates are coming down. Nowhere are they going up,” the researchers report (emphasis added).

In the United States, the fertility rate currently stands at 1.64. The only reason our population is not currently declining is because of lenient immigration policies. But immigration can only move people around, it can’t generate new members of human society.

And sometime this century, the population of the world will start declining.

Ibbitson and Bricker write:

The great defining event of the twenty-first century – one of the great defining events in human history – will occur in three decades, give or take, when the global population starts to decline. Once that decline begins, it will never end.

We do not face the challenge of a population bomb but of a population bust – a relentless, generation-after-generation culling of the human herd. Nothing like this has ever happened before.

In a world of population decline, one thing is clear. Old wisdom is usually the best wisdom. And the command that God gave humanity in the very first chapter of the book of Genesis, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth,” seems wiser still (Genesis 1:28 ESV).

The ongoing population crisis demonstrates why the work of Focus on the Family is so important, as we encourage Christians to get married and have children. As goes the family, so goes the nation – and the world.

Would you be willing to partner with us as a Friends of Focus on the Family sustaining member during our first annual sustainer drive? Find out more information here.

Related articles and resources:

Japanese Prime Minister Warns of Imminent Societal Collapse Due to Low Birth Rate

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