The Number of Children in Japan Falls to a New Record Low

Japan’s children population continues to plummet to record lows. The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry reported that there are only 15.71 million children aged 14 and under living in Japan, which includes foreign-born children. This is the lowest child population since the Ministry has been recording the data since 1950.

Children's Day

Image via Japan Info

In short: Japan’s children population has been dropping for 36 consecutive years, despite Prime Minister Abe pledging to reverse the nation’s declining birth rate.

Abe made reversing Japan’s declining birth rate one of his primary goals when he took office in December 2012. The government has proposed tax benefits to working moms, encouraged lower work weeks, and sponsored dating events, but none of the actions have led to positive results.

According to the United Nations Demographic Yearbook, children only comprise 12.4% of Japan’s population, which is the lowest among nations with at least 40 million people. Germany has the second lowest ratio of 13.2%.

Prime Minister Abe
Prime Minister Abe has pledged to increase Japan’s birth rate to 1.8% by 2025, but has failed to make any sort of progress.

Image via The Telegraph

Japan’s children population peaked in 1954 at 29.89 million children. Since then, the number of births has fallen every decade except for the ’70s due to a baby boom.

The elderly population has surpassed children since 1997, and economists worry that this may put a catastrophic strain on their economy. The cost of elderly care, which includes healthcare and pension rates, has taken an unfavorable turn due to the decreasing workforce and tax base.

Japan Elderly

Image via BBC

Political scientists have argued that Japan has to either find a way to increase the birth rate or promote immigration, which is something the voting population has been against.

The reasons for Japan’s low birthrate is complex but one cause that has been discussed at length by commentators is how the work culture puts a strain on the birthrate. Japan’s work culture has resulted in people dying of overwork or “karoshi” and putting their career before their relationships.

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