TOKYO, June 11, 2004 ( – Japan’s birthrate fell to a record low of 1.29 last year, the Japanese government said Thursday.  The birthrate, which has been falling for decades, now ranks among the lowest in the world.  It dropped 0.03 points from the previous low of 1.32 in 2002.

The falling birthrate threatens to leave Japan with a labor shortage in decades to come as well as to eat away at the country’s tax base.  It is also putting pressure on Japan’s national pension fund.  “We have to take measures to raise the birthrate,” said Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda.  He did not, however point to any steps the government planned to take.

It was also reported on yesterday that there were a record 32,000 Japanese suicides last year.


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