A nationwide survey by the Japan Sports Agency has found that children's physical strength and athletic abilities have declined. The Agency says smartphones are partly to blame.
The annual survey looks at physical activities, such as running and throwing balls, as well as lifestyles. This fiscal year's survey covered more than 2.1 million children in the fifth-grade of elementary school and the second-year of junior high school.
The national average of physical prowess fell from last fiscal year for both boys and girls. The average for fifth-grade boys fell to the lowest since the survey began in fiscal 2008.
The survey found that children, especially boys, spend more time watching TV or using smartphones.
The time that junior high school students spend on athletic activities dropped by more than 90 minutes per week.
The Agency says physical strength and athletic activities had been improving for boys and girls in recent years, so it takes this year's results seriously. The Agency also says there is a limit to what schools can do, adding that there's a need to involve communities.
Nagoya Gakuin University Professor Takahiro Nakano, who was involved in the analysis, says the intense summer heat over the past few years may have made it difficult to find time for children to exercise outdoors.