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Japan's pandemic baby bust seen pushing births below 800,000

Virus adds to uncertainty over marriage and raising children

Japan's birthrate is falling far faster than previous estimates had anticipated. (Photo by Wataru Ito)

TOKYO -- Annual births in Japan are expected to fall below 800,000 next year, crossing a grim milestone more than a decade earlier than previously anticipated, as uncertainty caused by the pandemic accelerates a yearslong decline.

Based on the number of reported pregnancies and other data, Takumi Fujinami of the Japan Research Institute estimates annual births at 848,000 this year and 792,000 in 2021, just a third of the levels seen during the postwar baby boom. The most recent projection by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, in 2017, had shown the tally crossing the 800,000 threshold 12 years later.

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