As the nation celebrated the national Children's Day holiday on May 5, the latest statistics on children continue to reflect their ominous decline in numbers, with the only bright spots being Tokyo and Okinawa.
The number of children under 15 years of age fell 150,000 from a year earlier to a record low 16.49 million as of April 1, according to government estimates released on May 4.
The child population shrank for the 32nd consecutive year and hit the lowest level since statistics became available in 1950, the internal affairs ministry said.
The estimates, based on national population census and other surveys, were compiled for Children’s Day on May 5.
Those under 15 years of age accounted for 12.9 percent of the total population, one of the lowest levels in the world. The corresponding figure is 19.6 percent in the United States, 16.5 percent in China and 15.6 percent in South Korea.
According to the estimates, there were 8.44 million boys and 8.04 million girls. By age, 3.55 million were between 12 and 14; 3.4 million were between 9 and 11; 3.2 million were between 6 and 8; 3.17 million were between 3 and 5; and 3.16 million were between 0 and 2.
The number of children continued to fall sharply in Fukushima Prefecture, where many people have evacuated due to the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in 2011.
It dropped 11,000--the largest decline among all prefectures along with Osaka--following a fall of 13,000 the previous year.
The number of children increased only in two of the nation’s 47 prefectures: Tokyo and Okinawa.
In Okinawa, those under 15 years of age accounted for 17.6 percent, the highest among all prefectures. Akita Prefecture had the lowest figure of 11.1 percent.
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