Number of children continues to decline
Monday, May 5, 2008
The number of children aged 14 or younger in Japan was estimated at 17.25 million as of April 1, marking a record low for the 27th straight year, the government said Sunday.
Children made up 13.5 percent of the total population, giving Japan the lowest percentage of children among the world's major countries. Their proportion to the total population was down from 13.6 percent last year, registering a drop for the 34th year in a row, the government said in its annual report ahead of Children's Day on Monday.
The National Institute of Population and Social Security Research estimates that the number of children will drop below 15 million and 12 percent of the total in 2015.
The ratio of children in the population stood at 35.4 percent in 1950 — immediately after the first postwar baby boom — but has since steadily declined except for a second baby boom between 1971 and 1974.
The ratio of people aged 65 or older surpassed that of children in 1997 and today accounts for 21.8 percent, or 8.3 points higher than the proportion of children.
The child population as of April 1 marked a decline of 130,000 from a year earlier, comprised of an estimated 8.84 million boys and 8.41 million girls.
By more detailed age brackets, children aged 12 to 14 comprised the largest group at 3.59 million, while those up to 2 years old numbered 3.24 million — reflecting an acceleration of the falling birthrate.
The percentage of children in the population was the lowest among the 31 countries listed in the United Nations demographic yearbook as having at least 30 million people. Japan was outranked by Italy and Germany, where children accounted for 14.1 percent of the populations. Nigeria had the highest figure at 44.3 percent.
By prefecture, Tokyo had the lowest proportion of children at 11.8 percent, while the highest was Okinawa at 18.1 percent.
Akita at 11.8 percent and Hokkaido at 12.4 percent were the second and third lowest, while Shiga at 15.2 percent and Aichi at 14.7 were ranked No. 2 and 3 highest.
Response by Trent Steel
Japan faces a crisis at home. Since the post-war era, this eastern nation has combated the problem of an increasing labor shortage by relying on women, immigration (although, recently, to a lesser extent), and improving the efficiency of their own workforce. But despite recent governmental involvement in attempts to raise the declining birthrate and thereby ensuring a stable future for many Japanese living in both urban and rural areas, children now make up less than 14 percent of the population, with people aged 65 and older totaling 22 percent.
The largest percentage of the population eligible for retirement and one of the smallest for children.
In contrast, America faces a crisis abroad. With US troops digging their talons deeper and deeper into the heart of Iraq with no apparent end in sight, they are shifting their role from "liberators" to a policing force, slowly making the Iraqi people completely dependent on them for protection and order in an arrangement that benefits no one.
The best way to kill two birds with one stone, pulling US troops from the Middle East and recovering the Japanese birthrate?
Bomb Pearl Harbor... again.
Hear me out.
As in the US, the Japanese experienced a sudden increase in the number of children born in the post-WWII era, a phenomenon that has become well known as the post-war baby boom: babies born from families so delighted to be reunited, they will copulate without end.
And if WWII were any kind of template, it proved Americans will not tolerate a war fought on two fronts for an extended period of time; a consensus must be resolved, action taken to remedy the situation. How fortunate it had to be in the form of an atomic bomb.
Nevertheless, a second attack on Pearl Harbor may be just what this world needs:
1. Such an unprovoked and completely unnecessary assault would force the executive branch to take a be-all and end-all stance in Iraq, in order to avoid facing an enemy from the east and the west. Troops would be recalled to the US to train for the "inevitable" attack on American soil, leaving only the smallest contingent behind to act as a military liaison. Mission accomplished... again.
2. Japan, having adapted a pacifist constitution, would immediate see the error of its ways, make whatever concessions are required by the US, and recall their troops from the Pacific. Housewives, so relieved to have their husbands returned safely to them, would naturally take advantage of their presence. Hence, more babies. Another post-war baby boom. Rising birthrate, things looking up for 2050.
Edwin Starr, eat your heart out.