• The Associated Press

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Japan’s child population has fallen to a record low since the end of World War II as the country’s birthrate continues to fall, the government said Friday.

As of April 1, there were 17.38 million people aged 14 or under, down by 140,000 from a year earlier, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said in a statement. It was the 26th straight year of decline in the child population.

Children formed 13.6 percent of Japan’s total population of 127.8 million, down 0.1 percentage point from 2006 and the lowest level on record. 1950 is when the government began recording the statistics. In contrast, the proportion of people age 65 or older hit a record high of 21.2 percent.

Japan’s child population ratio is believed to be the lowest in the world. It ranked below 14.1 percent in Italy and Germany, Spain’s 14.5 percent and 20.5 percent in the United States.

The annual report, released ahead of Children’s Day — a public holiday — Saturday, underscores concerns over Japan’s faltering birthrate and shrinking population.

Japan’s birthrate in 2005 fell to a record low of 1.26 babies per woman over her lifetime, stirring fears of impeding tax revenue shortfalls and labor shortages. The government has also predicted that Japan’s total population will plunge by nearly one-third by 2055.

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