The number of children 14 and under has fallen for the 33rd consecutive year to a record low of 16.33 million as of April 1, the government said Sunday, reflecting the continued downward trend in the Japan’s birthrate.
The number of children in Japan fell by 160,000 from the previous year, and has declined by more than 13 million since 1950, when the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry first started compiling such population statistics.
The figures were contained in a ministry report released ahead of Children’s Day on May 5 that showed that among 30 countries with at least 40 million people, Japan continues to have the lowest percentage of children despite government measures to address the declining birthrate.
Tokyo and Okinawa were the only prefectures that had more children compared with the previous year, according to data from Oct. 1.
The ratio of children aged 14 and under relative to the overall population was the highest in Okinawa Prefecture, at 17.6 percent, and the lowest in Akita Prefecture, at 10.9 percent.
Children overall made up 12.8 percent of Japan’s population. That’s lower than 13.2 percent in Germany, 18.5 percent in France and 19.5 percent in the United States, the ministry said.
There are now 8.36 million boys and 7.97 million girls aged 14 or under in Japan.
Children 12 to 14 made up the largest group, at 3.51 million, while the group spanning newborns to 2-year-olds totaled 3.14 million.
In 1950, children made up 35.4 percent of the population, or about one in three Japanese. But the ratio has gradually declined, save for a brief uptick during the second baby boom in the 1970s, resuming its downward trend from 1982 onward.