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Japan's birth rate still trails government target

At 1.44 babies per woman, population is set to decline

TOKYO -- The average Japanese woman will give birth to 1.44 babies in her lifetime, according to new estimates, showing improvement but still far behind the 1.8 rate the government wants to support the country's population.

The latest figure, up from 1.35 in the previous estimate in 2012, comes from the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research. The target 1.8 rate is said to be achievable if young people have as many children as they wish.

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