Pandemic wedding crash exacerbates Japan’s demographic problems

By Kiyoshi Takenaka

TOKYO, Feb 22 (.) – The number of marriages in Japan plummeted amid the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, the Health Ministry said on Monday, likely exacerbating the country’s low birth rate and aging problems. of the population.

Last year, Japan recorded 537,583 marriages, a 12.7% decline from the previous year, the biggest percentage drop since the 15.1% decline in 1950, when the post-WWII marriage boom began to fade, indicated the ministry.

Unlike some Western countries, in Japan a few out of 100 babies are born out of wedlock.

Some couples have postponed their weddings to wait until large gatherings can be held again, while others, affected by the economic hardships of the pandemic, must have given up marriage entirely, said Takumi Fujinami of the Japan Research Institute.

“There is a good chance that the decline in marriages in 2020 will impact the number of child births during a given period starting this year,” Fujinami said.

“I heard that many women lost their jobs during the pandemic, but there is not much social security for those people, or for young people in general and newlyweds. I think it is time to think a lot about these issues.”

The number of babies born each year in Japan nearly halved for 40 years until 2019, prompting former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to call the phenomenon a “national crisis.”

The decline in the birth rate and the longevity of the elderly have made the country the oldest society in the world, with 35.9 million people (28% of the population) aged 65 and over.

Daily COVID-19 cases in Japan have declined in recent weeks after peaking in early January, although Tokyo and nine other prefectures are still in a state of emergency.

Japan has recorded about 426,000 infections and 7,549 related deaths, according to public broadcaster NHK.

(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Edited in Spanish by Janisse Huambachano)