The number of babies born in Japan totaled 758,631 in 2023, hitting a record low for the eighth straight year and representing half the figure of some 1.5 million logged in 1983, a preliminary health ministry report showed Tuesday.

The 2023 figure declined by 5.1% from the previous year's preliminary total of 799,728, the largest ever margin of decline. The figure fell below the 800,000 mark for the first time in 2022.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of marriages in 2020 fell to the lowest since the end of World War II, and the figure sank even lower in 2021. This may have played a part in the decline in the number of births last year.