Demographics of children in Fukushima Pref. remain steady at pre-disaster levels

The population of children aged 14 and under in Fukushima Prefecture stood at 239,128 as of April 1, down 4,575, or 1.9%, from a year before, according to the prefectural government's announcement on May 5, the Children's Day national holiday in Japan. The rate of contraction was the smallest in the past eight years for which comparable data are available. The number of babies less than 1 year old declined slightly to 14,184. Prefectural officials believe the demographics of children have stabilized at levels similar to those before the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and ensuing accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. After the base date for the statistics was set at April 1 in 2007, the number of children in the prefecture started declining rapidly following the quake and nuclear accident due to the evacuation of childrearing-generation residents to outside the prefecture. In 2011, the figure saw a drop of 8,563, or 3.0%, from the year before, and in 2012, it decreased by 15,494, or 5.7%. After that, the contraction rate has been shrinking, marking 2.2% last year and improving another 0.3 percentage point this year for the same rate -- and smallest since 2007 -- as in 2008 and 2009. (Translated by Kyodo News)