Japanese child numbers fall for 27th year to new low
May 6, 2008
TOKYO (AFP) -- The number of children in Japan has fallen for the 27th straight year to hit a new low, the government said Monday in a sign of the country's rapidly ageing population.Children aged 14 or younger numbered 17,250,000 as of April 1, down by 130,000 from a year earlier, the internal affairs ministry said in an annual survey released to coincide with the May 5 Children's Day national holiday.
The figure is the lowest since 1950 when comparable data started.
The ratio of children to the total population sank for 34 years in a row to 13.5 percent, also a record low, the ministry said.
Japan has one of the world's oldest populations with many young people deciding that families place a burden on their lifestyles and careers.
Japan's population has been shrinking since 2005 but the country is not producing enough children to prevent the drop.
The average number of children a woman has during her lifetime has been hovering around 1.3, well below the 2.07 seen as necessary to maintain the population at current levels.
A government report on the falling birthrate warned in April that Japan's workforce could shrink by more than one-third to 42.28 million by 2050 if the country fails to halt the birthrate decline.