National

Number of children in Japan declined by a third during Heisei Era

JIJI, AP

The number of children in Japan fell by a third during the 30 years of the Heisei Era, which ended in April, internal affairs ministry data showed Saturday.

The number aged under 15 was estimated at 15.33 million as of April 1, down 180,000 from a year before and the lowest since comparable data became available in 1950.

The total, which marked the 38th straight year of decrease since 1982, was about two-thirds of the 23.2 million in 1989, the first year of the Heisei Era.

In the new era of Reiwa, an easy solution to the problem is not expected to be found soon to halt the declining numbers, analysts said. The nation’s birthrate has also remained low amid a lack of support for working women, many of whom continue to face the burden of homemaking and other traditional roles while having to work long hours.

According to the data, released before Children’s Day on Sunday, those aged under 15 accounted for 12.1 percent of the nation’s total population, down 0.2 percentage point year on year and falling for the 45th straight year since 1975. Japan ranks lowest among countries with a population exceeding 40 million, followed by South Korea at 12.9% and Italy and Germany at 13.4%, according to the Statistics Bureau figures.

The share for Japan was down 6.7 points from the 18.8 percent in 1989.

Of all children, boys accounted for 7.85 million and girls totaled 7.48 million.

By three-year age brackets, the numbers fell as the ages become lower. Those aged 12 to 14 stood at 3.22 million, 9 to 11 at 3.21 million, 6 to 8 at 3.09 million, 3 to 5 at 2.95 million and 0 to 2 at 2.86 million.

As of Oct. 1, 2018, the number of children increased by 8,000 to 1.55 million in Tokyo, the only local government that posted growth. The number remained unchanged at 247,000 in Okinawa Prefecture and decreased in all 45 of the other prefectures.

The share of children in the total prefectural population was highest in Okinawa Prefecture, at 17.0 percent, followed by Shiga Prefecture, at 14.0 percent, and Saga Prefecture, at 13.6 percent. The share was lowest in Akita Prefecture, at 10.0 percent, followed by Aomori Prefecture, at 10.8 percent, and Hokkaido Prefecture, at 10.9 percent.