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Lack of children poses problems for Japan's future

JAPAN, which designates May 5 as Children's Day, had fewer children to celebrate the holiday for the 28th straight year, underscoring a demographic dilemma that could eventually wreak havoc on the world's second-largest economy.

A government report released this week said the number of children under 15 as of April 1 had fallen to about 17 million. Japan's proportion of children - which has been declining for the past 35 years - now stands at just 13 percent of the country's 128 million people.

In contrast, the elderly population is swelling. The number of those over 65 has reached 22.5 percent and continues to climb.

The changes to Japan's population, fueled by low birthrates and one of the world's highest life expectancies, are expected to strain government services and pension programs, as well as lead to labor shortages.

Japan now has the lowest percentage of children among 31 major countries according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications report.

Japan's population posted its sharpest decline ever last year, falling by 51,000.


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