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Japan's birth rate leaves country 'standing on the verge' of societal collapse, prime minister says

Country has been below "replacement rate" for decades.

Published: January 24, 2023 10:57am

Updated: January 24, 2023 11:04am

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida warned this week the country's rock-bottom birth rate poses a major risk of destabilization for the Asian country. 

Kishida gave the dire warning at a meeting of the National Diet, the country's legislature. "Japan is standing on the verge of whether we can continue to function as a society," he said during the special address.

"Focusing attention on policies regarding children and child-rearing is an issue that cannot wait and cannot be postponed," he added.

Demographers have for years pointed to Japan's markedly low birth rate as a sign of brewing trouble for the country, as its increasingly aged population comes to rely on a smaller and smaller share of workers to continue running the country as its ranks of retirees grow. 

The "replacement rate" of a nation—the number of births necessary to keep a country's population stable—is considered by most experts to fall at around 2.1 children per woman. 

Japan's birth rate slipped below that measure in the early 1970s.

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