TOKYO, June 4 (Reuters) - The number of babies born in Japan fell to a record low last year, the health ministry said on Friday, as more couples put off marriage and starting a family amid a global pandemic.

The number of births fell to 840,832 in 2020, down 2.8% from a year earlier and the lowest since records began in 1899, the ministry said.

The coronavirus outbreak has hit birth rates around the world, including in the United States, despite early speculation that pandemic-related lockdowns may lead to a global baby boom.

The number of registered marriages in Japan fell 12.3% last year to 525,490, a post-war record, the ministry said. The country's fertility rate, the expected number of births per woman, declined to 1.34, among the lowest in the world.