Japan’s Child Population Falls Further to 14.4 MillionSociety Family
Japan’s estimated population of children under age 15 was 14.4 million as of April 1, 2023, according to annual data from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, released on the May 5 Children’s Day holiday. This was 300,000 fewer than the previous year and marked the forty-second straight year since 1982 that the number has fallen. It is also the lowest on record since comparable statistics were first compiled in 1950. There were 7.4 million boys and 7 million girls. Children under 15 represent 11.5% of the total population, down 0.2 percentage points from the previous year, in the forty-ninth consecutive annual decline since 1975. Meanwhile, the population of those 65 or older number 36.2 million or 29.1% of the overall population. At around 2.5 times greater than the number of children, it demonstrates a significant demographic imbalance.
According to the United Nations Demographic Yearbook for 2022, at 11.5% Japan has the lowest percentage of children among the 36 countries in the world whose populations are 40 million or greater. South Korea has the next lowest percentage with 11.6%, followed by Italy with 12.4%, and Spain with 13.8%.
By three–year age groups, children aged 12 to 14 were the most numerous, at 3.2 million, followed by 3.1 million for 9– to 11–year–olds, 3.0 million for 6– to 8–year–olds, 2.7 million for 3– to 5–year-olds, and 2.4 million for newborns to 2–year–olds. It is clear that birthrates are continuing to decline.
Prime Minister Kishida Fumio pledged to take “unprecedented measures to tackle the falling birthrate” and plans to outline a general framework to double the budget for children in the future in the Basic Policy on Economic and Fiscal Management and Reform, which will be put together in June. However, with no clear goal set for how to secure financial resources, it will not be easy reversing the decades-long trend of low birthrates.
(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo © Pixta.)