2016 demographics: Okinawa birthrate remains highest in Japan for 43 years straight, but natural growth rate lowest since reversion


September 22, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo

On September 21, the Okinawa Prefectural Department of Public Health and Medical Care announced finalized statistics regarding demographics in Okinawa Prefecture in 2016.

There were 16,617 births in 2016, meaning a birth rate of 11.6 per 1,000 people, which is 3.8 percentage points higher than the national average, putting Okinawa in first for 43 years in a row.

Meanwhile, the number of deaths rose, and the natural growth rate, calculated by subtracting the number of deaths from the number of births, fell to 4,911, which is 704 lower than the previous year’s figure. The natural growth rate per 1,000 people was 3.4, the only positive case among all of Japan’s prefectures, but it was the lowest it has been since Okinawa’s reversion to Japan in 1972.


According to the announcement, the number of births in 2016 fell by 324 year on year, and the birth rate fell by 0.3 percentage points.

Average daily births were 45.5, meaning one person born every 31 minutes and 38 seconds.

The total special birth rate, which is the estimated number of children per woman in her lifetime, was 1.95 (national average: 1.44), a 0.01 point decrease year on year, putting Okinawa at number one for 32 years in a row.


The number of deaths was 11,706, an increase of 382 compared to the previous year, and the death rate per 1,000 people rose 0.2 points to 8.2. The average number of deaths per day was 32.1, meaning one death every 44 minutes and 54 seconds.

The death rate was 2.3 points lower than the national average, and the lowest nationwide for 15 years in a row.


The most prevalent cause of death was malignant neoplasm (cancer) at 3,074 cases, followed by cardiac problems at 1,670 cases and cerebrovascular problems at 932 cases.

The number of stillbirths was 434, 11 more than the previous year.

The stillbirth rate per 1,000 people was 25.5, 1.1 points higher than the previous year, and 4.5 points higher than the national average.


The number of marriages was 8,464 (231 less than the previous year), and the number of divorces was 3,700 (97 more than the previous year).


(English translation by T&CT and Sandi Aritza)


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