Japan renews child population low in 43rd straight year of decline

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Japan's estimated child population shrank for the 43rd consecutive year to renew its record low, government data showed Saturday, while Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's government scrambles to address the issue through "unprecedented" measures, Kyodo reports.

The number of children aged 14 or younger, including foreigners, was 14.01 million as of April 1, down 330,000 from a year ago, according to data released by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications before the national Children's Day holiday on Sunday.

The ratio of children to the overall population fell 0.2 percentage point to 11.3 percent, also the lowest since comparable data became available in 1950.

According to U.N. data, Japan has the second lowest ratio of children among 37 nations with a population of at least 40 million, only behind South Korea with 11.2 percent.

Kishida's government seeks to pass into law a bill for tackling the country's rapidly declining birth rate by providing more financial assistance to child-rearing households and expanding daycare services, although critics doubt whether such initiatives can reverse the decades-long trend.

By gender, there were 7.18 million boys and 6.83 million girls.

By age, 3.17 million children were in the 12 to 14 age group compared with 2.35 million in the 0 to 2 age group, indicating a continuing trend of fewer children being born.

Japan's child population has fallen since 1982, having peaked in 1954 at 29.89 million, with a second baby boom observed between 1971 and 1974.

Government data also showed that as of Oct. 1 last year, the child population exceeded 1 million only in Tokyo and neighboring Kanagawa Prefecture, while the figure sank below 1 million in Osaka Prefecture for the first time since the breakdown by prefecture began in 1970.

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