The number of children in Japan has fallen for the 37th straight year in a row, a sign the country's attempts (nỗ lực) to offset (bù đắp) the country's severely aging population are failing.
As of April 1, 2018, there were 15.53 million children under the age of 14 in Japan, down 170,000 from the previous year, continuing a downward slide which started in 1981, according to data released by the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry.
The largest segment (phân phúc) was also the oldest, with 3.26 million 12 to 14-year-olds, suggesting the downward trend (xu hướng giảm) isn't going to end any time soon.
Despite attempts by the Shinzo Abe government to encourage Japanese to have more children, only Tokyo reported more children compared to the previous year.
Japan's total population currently stands at 126 million. Children made up just 12.3% of that figure, compared to 18.9% for the US, 16.8% for China, and 30.8% for India.
According to the Japan Times, the government has been aiming to boost (tăng) Japan's total fertility rate (tỷ suất sinh) -- the average number of children each woman has in her lifetime -- to 1.8 by the end of 2025 from 1.45 in 2015, through one time cash payments and other incentives (những khuyến khích).
Japan has been struggling with low birth rates for decades, but unlike many other industrialized countries (những nước công nghiệp, nước phát triển) which have also seen native populations having fewer children, it has not been able to make the numbers up with immigrants (những người nhập cư).
By 2060, the country's population is expected to plummet to 86.74 million from its current total of 126.26 million, according to a projection by the Japanese Health Ministry.
With fewer workers paying taxes to support a growing silver population in need of pensions and healthcare services, Japan's economy is facing an unprecedented challenge (thử thách chưa từng có, chưa từng thấy).
According to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), in 2013, the last year for which data was available, foreigners made up only 1.3% of Japan's population, compared to 7% for the US, or 16.1% for Estonia.
The lack of new workers is heightened (bị đặt nặng) by Japan's woeful levels of gender disparity, a recent OECD report warned. While the ratio (tỷ lệ) of boys to girls is relatively in keeping with most industrialized countries, there is currently a 25% gender pay gap in Japan, the third-widest (lớn thứ 3) of all member states, and women are often discouraged from participating in the workforce by a variety of factors including lack of childcare, discrimination (phân biệt đối xử), and sexual harassment (quấy rối tình dục).
"As Japan's elderly population is projected to reach nearly three-quarters of the working-age population by 2050, using all available talent in the labor market is key to overcome labor shortages (thiếu hụt lao động)," the report warned.
"This will require creating better work conditions for youth, incentivizing employment for the elderly, attracting foreign workers and closing gender gaps in job quality to promote the inclusion of women."