There were 1,008,000 babies born in Japan in 2015, up 4,000 from a year earlier, the health ministry said Thursday. It was the first increase since 2010.
The ministry’s figures, all estimates, record 1,302,000 deaths in the year, up 29,000 from a year earlier and a net loss of 294,000 people for 2015.
The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare attributed the rise in births to an improvement in employment conditions and government efforts to boost day care services in the first half of 2015. There was also a rise in the number of births among women in their early 30s.
But the overall trend of fewer children is expected to continue amid declining numbers of women of reproductive age.
The number of newborn babies, which hit more than 2 million annually in the 1970s, dropped below 1.5 million in 1984 and below 1.1 million in 2005, the data showed.
On the other hand, the number of deaths topped 1.3 million for the first time in 2015, resulting in a natural population decline for the ninth consecutive year. The top four leading causes of death were cancer, heart disease, pneumonia and cerebrovascular disease.
The number of couples marrying in 2015 stood at 635,000, down about 9,000 from 2014 and marking a postwar low. Divorces numbered 225,000, up around 3,000.
On average, a person was born every 31 seconds and a person died every 24 seconds. Couples got married every 50 seconds and divorced every 140 seconds.