The recently released government White Paper on Birthrate-declining Society for 2015 touched on the younger generation's worrisome attitudes toward romance and marriage. The sad reality conveyed therein, reports Nikkan Gendai (June 24), is that the less money a person has, the less interest, or expectations, he or she has in terms of prospects for either love or romance.
The latest survey, which targeted 7,000 people between the ages of 20 and 39 years of age from all around the country, found that 28.8% of unmarried respondents said they did not have a romantic partner. Among this group, 37.6% said that they did not want such a partner, and what's more, 50.3% said they had no prior experience of having a steady partner.
This decline had already been in evidence for several years, and the government, doing what it does best, decided to throw money at the problem. In fiscal 2013, discretionary budgets of 60 million yen were allocated to Japan's 47 prefectures. In addition, designated metropolises, core cities and areas were eligible for 20 million yen and smaller administrative units, such as wards, towns or villages, could receive up to 8 million yen. These funds were to be put to use for such activities as holding various events aimed at helping young singles get together.
"During fiscal 2013, these funds were disbursed to all of the prefectures and a total of 244 administrative areas," said a person attached to the Cabinet office responsible for dealing with the declining birthrate. "In the revised budget for fiscal 2014, the same figure -- 3.01 billion yen -- was also allocated."
In 2014, the previous year's budgets were upped to 75 million, 25 million and 10 million yen, respectively.
Meanwhile, the survey responses to the White Paper suggested a strong correlation between low income and disinterest in wooing the opposite sex, with 37.5% of males earning 4 million yen or less per year, and 46.5% of females earning less than 2 million yen per year telling the pollsters they had no particular desire for a romantic partner. Which makes one wonder where all that money was being spent.
"Civil servants have got some really dumb ideas," remarked Hiroko Ogiwara, an economic journalist. "Rather than blaming the problem on the few opportunities for members of the opposite sex to get together, they should be looking at peoples' shying away from marriages due to economic problems or anxieties over their future.
"Look at France, which has taken such measures as recognizing children born out of wedlock," Ogiwara continues. "It provides generous support for families with single mothers. They've arranged for these kids to receive free education and expanded assistance for child support, with the result that France has been successful in effecting a recovery in its birth rate.
"In Japan, on the other hand, it's come to the point that children are perceived as a burden and having them is a hardship. And while the Diet passes new legislation like the revised worker dispatch law -- which further tightens the noose around workers' necks -- also see it flinging money at measures to deal with the low birthrate.
"The left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing."© Japan Today