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Japan fertility rate drops to the lowest level in 12 years

Number of births falls below 900,000 2 years ahead of expectations

The number of births fell across all age groups, with the decline being the most significant among women in the 25-39 age bracket.

TOKYO -- Japan's fertility rate fell for the fourth straight year, highlighting the grave challenge facing one of the world's most rapidly aging societies.

The country's total fertility rate, the average number of children a woman gives birth to, was 1.36, a decline of 0.06 from the previous year. The figure is the lowest it has been since 2007.

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