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Japan’s child starvation

TOKYO (AsiaNews): The birth rate in Japan, which has sat below population replacement level for decades, has plunged to its lowest level since 1950 and left the under 15-year-old population at its lowest ebb since the end of World War II.

At the beginning of April this year, the number of children under 15 stood at 15.71 million, down 170,000 on the previous year.

Results of a government survey released on May 5 to mark National Children’s Day show a drop in the birthrate for the 36th consecutive year, leaving the number of young people in the country today at less than half the boom year of 1954, when there 29.88 million under 15.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications estimated the figure based on the national census data.

Children account for only 12.4 per cent of the total population. This shows a percentage drop from 35.4 per cent in 1950, the year the highest number was recorded. But o today’s 15.71 million children, 8.05 million are male, while only 7.67 million are female.

In contrast with the rest of the country, the city of Tokyo has recorded a year-on-year increase in its youthful population, which makes the aging rural population highly problematic.

A 2015 demography report compiled by the government indicates that by 2040, the decline in the population could force more than 890 rural communities into extinction.

Archbishop Tarcisio Isao Kikuchi, from Niigata, said that the data is a source of great concern for the life of the Church in the country.

“This trend may affect the very existence of the parishes,” Bishop Kikuchi said. “Given that the recent economic situation in Japan is not conducive to raising many children, it is irresponsible for the Catholic Church to promote a policy of more children, while many families are suffering from financial difficulties caused by children’s education without the support of the government.”

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