05/06/2013, 00.00
JAPAN
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Fewer births in Japan for the 32nd year in a row

On Children's Day, the government says that the number of children under 15 years of age fell by 150,000 in a year. A mix of consumerism, focus on career and Shintoism are behind the drop and threaten the nation's economic well-being.

Tokyo (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Japan's population includes fewer and fewer children and adolescents. Because of prevailing values centred on consumerism, focus on career and Shintoism, couples delay having children and many people choose not to have any. However, this way, Statistics Bureau of Japan, 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 1 April.

The figures, which were released yesterday, Children's Day, show that those under 15 years of age were around 16.5 million in a population of 127 million, 12.9 per cent of the total population, one of the lowest levels in the world. In the United States by comparison, the percentage is 19.6 per cent, 16.5 per cent in China and South Korea 15.6 per cent .

Overall, there are an estimated 8.44 million boys and 8.04 million girls. By age, 3.55 million are between 12 and 14; 3.4 million, between 9 and 11; 3.2 million, between 6 and 8; 3.17 million, between 3 and 5; and 3.16 million, between 0 and 2.

In the nation's 47 prefectures, the number of children fell especially sharply in Fukushima, where many people were evacuated as a result of the 2011earthquake nuclear power plant accident, down by 11,000 last year and 13,000 the previous year.

The drop in births and the consequent aging of the population pose considerable risks to Japan's economic well-being. Although the third largest economy in the world with a balanced pension system, it will find it impossible to sustain that without fresh blood. For now though, the government is not committed to any action that would stimulate the birth rate.

 

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