The nation of 123.9 million people only recorded 727,277 births last year, according to new data released by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. The fertility rate - defined as the total number of births a woman has in her lifetime - dropped from 1.26 to 1.20.

For a population to remain stable, it needs a fertility rate of 2.1. Anything above that will see a population expand, with a large proportion of children and young adults, as seen in India and many African nations.

But in Japan, the fertility rate has been well below that stable marker of 2.1 for half a century, experts say that it fell below that level after the 1973 global oil crisis pushed economies into recession, and never recovered.