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Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida spoke in desperate terms about the country’s cratering birth rate in an address to his nation’s parliament on Monday.

“Now or never when it comes to policies regarding births and child-rearing-it is an issue that simply cannot wait any longer,” Prime Minister Kishida said in a speech marking the new parliamentary session. “The number of births dropped below 800,000 last year.”

“Japan is standing on the verge of whether we can continue to function as a society,” he added.

For perspective, Japan experienced nearly 2 million births per year throughout the 1970s.

Although the Asian island nation has a population of roughly 125 million, its demographic pyramid is rapidly greying. Only Monaco, the city-state on the French Riviera, has a higher proportion of residents 65 and older.

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