The number of children in Japan under 15 years old has fallen to a record low of 16.17 million, stretching the downtrend to a 34th consecutive year, according to government estimates released Monday.
The figure, current as of April 1, is down 160,000 from the year before and the lowest since officials began compiling comparable data in 1950, showing that Japan’s birthrate is nowhere near bottoming out.
By gender, 8.28 million were boys and 7.88 million were girls, the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry said.
Children under 15 accounted for 12.7 percent of the overall population, down 0.1 percentage point and falling for the 41st consecutive year.
The ratio was the lowest among major countries with populations of at least 40 million, and compared with 19.3 percent in the United States, 17.6 percent in Britain, 16.5 percent in China, 14.3 percent in South Korea and 13.1 percent in Germany.
By age, those 12 to 14 made up the largest group at 3.47 million, followed by those from 9 to 11 at 3.25 million, 6 to 8 at 3.21 million, 3 to 5 at 3.15 million and 2 and younger at 3.09 million. The figures show that the population decreases as the age goes down.
Among the 47 prefectures, only Tokyo logged a year-on-year increase in children under 15 as of last Oct. 1.
Okinawa had the highest ratio at 17.5 percent, with Shiga coming in second at 14.6 percent and Saga third with 14.2 percent.
The lowest child ratio logged was 10.8 percent in Akita, followed by 11.3 percent in Tokyo and 11.5 percent in Hokkaido.