TOKYO, May 6, 2003 ( – Statistics released by the Japanese Home Affairs Ministry reveals that the number of children in Japan has dropped for the 22nd year in a row. The number of children under 15 as of April 1 was 18 million, down 170,000 from last year and representing only 14.1 per cent of the population.  By comparison children under 15 represent 21.1 per cent of the population in the United States.  Experts are predicting that the ageing demographic will cause havoc with the country’s economy and pension systems.  A September 2002 report showed the population over age 65 at 23.62 million or 18.5 per cent of the population.

Evidence from the survey also suggests the problem is not getting better since the fewest children are in the newborn to two-year-old age group. Abortion and contraception remain rampant in the country with women tending to delay marriage till later adulthood.  The country’s current birth rate is below 1.5, whereas a 2.1 birth rate is required to maintain a population.  See the Reuters coverage: