The number of children in Japan fell to a record-low 16.33 million as of April 1, as shown by government data that was released ahead of Children’s Day.
Children aged 14 and under account for 12.8 percent of Japan’s population—down 0.1 percentage points or 160,000 from a year earlier—according to the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry.
The overall figure has steadily declined for the 33rd consecutive year and has fallen by more than 13 million since 1950.
The ministry report showed that among 30 countries with at least 40 million people, Japan continues to have the lowest percentage of children despite measures taken by the central and local governments to address the downward trend in birthrate.
According to data from last October 1, Tokyo and Okinawa were the only prefectures that had more children compared with the previous year.
Children make up 17.6 percent of the population in Okinawa Prefecture, the highest percentage among other prefectures, while the ratio of children to adults is the lowest in Akita Prefecture, at 10.9 percent.
The number of children fell by 14,000 from a year earlier in Osaka, the largest decline among prefectures.
There are now 8.36 million boys and 7.97 million girls aged 14 and under in Japan. By age, the number of children in Japan aged 12 to 14 made up the largest group, at 3.51 million, while the group composed of newborns to 2-year-olds totaled 3.14 million.
The ministry says the number of children in Japan will continue to fall without a major increase in the number of births as Japan’s population ages and shrinks. The number of elderly in Japan by contrast is steadily increasing, reaching a record high of 24.6 percent of the population.
The figure poses a stark realization as Japan yesterday celebrated Children’s Day (Kodomo no Hi), a national holiday that commemorate the health and happiness of children.
By Maesie Bertumen
Image: “Children in Costume” by civ33/Flickr