As the Bank of Japan finally gives up on trying to hit its inflation target and resigns itself to the deflation that has already loomed over its economy for the past twenty years, the Japanese official birthrate data delivered the latest in a series of alarming milestones: According to government statistics, Japan suffered its largest-ever natural population decline in the country's history during 2018, CNN reported.
Japan's demographic timebomb is hardly a new development: The country has for years struggled with one of the lowest birthrates of the developed world, with deaths far outpacing births, causing its population to shrink for the ninth straight year in 2018. Meanwhile, with 921,000 births, Japan has posted the lowest birth rate since the country began keeping track in 1899 - coming in below 1 million for the third year in a row.
In a sign that the demographic candle is burning at both ends, deaths in 2018 also hit a postwar record high of 1.369 million, cementing a total natural population decline of 448,000 (also the highest ever).
According to international standards, Japan is a "super-aged" nation (more than 20% of its population is older than 65). The country's total population stands at 124 million: but by 2065, it's expected to drop to about 88 million.
To try and reverse this trend, the Japanese government has allocated 2 trillion yen ($18 billion) to expand free preschool for children between age 3 and 5, as well as for children age 2 and under from low-income families. The government also hopes to cut wait times at day care centers, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hopes to stop the Japanese population from breaking below 100 million by 2060.
But as the populations of developed nations either stall or shrink, growth is exploding in the developing world - particularly in Africa, where the populations of Nigeria, Uganda, Ethiopia and other nations on the Continent are exploding.
Of course, falling populations mean the per-capita debt borne by Japanese will explode in the coming years, compounding the fact that these demographic trends will make it even more difficult to pay back.
Fortunately, the BOJ has apparently resigned itself to monetizing the country's debt for the foreseeable future.