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Is Japan a good place to raise children?


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It's a good place if you have tons of money.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

The responses will be interesting, as the answer to this question will vary heavily on the background and values of the people being asked.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

In some ways yes. Relatively safe, and my kids had a wonderful innocent childhood. They learned rules and discipline but had lots of fun too. However, I think as they get older it changes. The "system" wants to shape them into what the system needs them to be, and I didnt want that for them. Fate intervened and we moved anyway. They are having a blast here in America because of the space, the proximity to nature and the more relaxed school life. But we forgo safety to an extent and in California at least it is hellishly expensive. Swings and roundabouts.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

From what I've seen, only if you're a native and want your children to follow in the dedicated pathways of their parents' sociological beliefs and commitments. But we all know where that's leading, with a failing birthrate and severely aging population. I keep encouraging my family in Sendai to send their boys to Canada, to live with me, and enjoy true freedom as ELHI students, without the beatings, cruel comments and sweltering heat the kids have to endure when they should be out of school for the summer, enjoying all the things we took for granted when we were that age.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

As NathalieB said, swings and roundabouts. Yes, it's very safe, but that safety also presents a risk when young, naive adults go into the world.

It's a shame how even the most casual interactions have to feel like transactions, though, meaning we can't give or receive for the sheer pleasure of it without feeling a duty (either imposed or acquired by us) to reciprocate. This arguably leads to very obedient consumers, but at a deadly risk to planet and pocketbook.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

I think so. I guess it depends on whether you have a good job to take care of your family. Japan seems peaceful and well mannered by the citizens there. My child will learn the importance of being a well-mannered individual.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

If you don't mind your kids being 'molded' by the system into what they think your child should be, and limited freedom to truly be yourself, yes.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

I think it's a great place to raise kids. I don't have to worry that my kids being exposed to drugs, and I know they are safe on the streets. There are plenty of extra curricular activities to keep them busy, and they will learn a lot of social responsibility.

I'm not putting them through the Japanese school system though.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

The good side, plenty of libraries and children halls, plenty of nature around where I live, plenty of children classes in the local "culture center" or sports club, plenty of second hand stores/flea markets for toys and clothes, medical costs for non-major diseases and small accidents is minimal.

Kindergarten teaches good mannerism, kindness, orderly. Though some might argue that teaches them conformity, but they do allow much creativity with arts & crafts, etc.

The down side, it's hard to find "family friends". My first starts elementary next year, not sure how she would fit in, how she would handle being "different", bullying and what not, but this happens everywhere, not just Japan.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Western public education also molds students in to automatons that blindly vote the way the educators want and are actually kept very ignorant about most real subjects. Mostly social engineering to be honest. Japan is a great place to raise your kids. Most foreigners should be able to get a good job in Japan unless they have no college or an unmarketable degree... Japan is really safe compared to most other places for kids. They seem to have a lot more educations programs for kids. Teletubbies and other cartoons of that ilk are just babysitting a person's kid for them without adding any benefit to anyone's life.

-9 ( +5 / -14 )

There are pluses and minuses, but all things taken into consideration, yes, it's a good place to raise kids. Nowhere's perfect, of course.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

After 2011, it's worse off now. Japan is much better for boys, not girls. Japanese women get little to no employment opportunities and their tertiary education status is one of the lowest in the developed world.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

I've thought long & hard about this, as I'm soon approaching a point where having kids mkght be on the table. Having been in Japan almost a decade, I would've said 'yes' in my first few years here. However, I've come to see the real Japan over the years and would have to say that Japan isn't a good place for raising kids. The main reason being - individualism isn't encouraged at all. Kids are 'molded' by a very antiquated & patriarchal system from a young age, and this reflects in the working adult later in life (don't even get me started on the corporate culture here!). What's more, kids have no where to play. No forests to explore, no bike tracks or jumps to enjoy - nowhere to get dirty with their friends. Evething is so sanitised & orderly here - it does my head in. I've lived in both the countryside & in the city, and I always feel sorry for the kids here in Tokyo. They really do live in a bubble. Tokyo is akin to living in the Matrix, regardless of age.

9 ( +13 / -4 )

I feel like it's a good place for kids to grow up until they hit the first year of junior high. Of course, situations are different for different families, different locations, different economic situations... but from my experience as an ALT, teaching both elementary and junior high, I see my students transition from elementary school to junior high and watch as many of them become gloomy, overly-stressed, or just less vibrant in general. I feel that the pressure put on kids once they enter Jr high ramps up way too severely, and that the kids aren't ready for such a jarring change. These are still children, but suddenly they have so many more responsibilities, longer school hours, stricter rules, and the rest of their free time gets gobbled up by bukatsu, cram school, or other obligations.

I definitely appreciate that Japan is much safer in general than my home country, USA, and I think Japanese elementary schools hit a fairly good balance of fun and discipline, but if I were to have a child in Japan, I would want to pull them out of the Japanese system once they finish elementary school and put them somewhere for junior high where they can learn how to be an independent thinking individual. I would want to see their creativity encouraged, not hammered down.

This may just be my western viewpoint, but in my mind it's very important than children get the chance to enjoy their youth while they still have it, and also to have the time to figure out who they are as people, and how to interact with those around them.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

No but I only say so because I think my hometown of Vancouver is an awesome place to raise kids. Comparing Japan to the rest of the world, it probably is neither great nor horrible.

The pluses I don't think need to be said as its pretty obvious if you live in Japan long enough.

The big minus I see with Japan is that information about the outside world is highly filtered and distorted to fit the collective Japanese view of the world

America = Guns but freedom Black people = all athletic - (no racism intended whatsoever on my part) Italians = all horny - (no racism intended whatsoever on my part) North Western Europe = advanced, nearly infallible in everything they do etc

Prejudices like these exist in any country/society, but I can't help but feel an extra bit of negativity in Japanese mindsets that comes from a grounded inferiority complex that is drilled into them by their media and their schools. I wouldn't want my kids growing up thinking they are constrained in some way because they're of this or that ethnicity.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I think at a young age, as long as you have enough money and the means, it is a good place to raise children. It's pretty safe, and there is a lot you can do with kids. Once they start reaching school age, even nursery school if both parents must work, though, it ceases to be a good place to raise children. Definitely better than a lot of third-word countries, I would say, but still a whole lot of reasons I will take my kids to Canada if and when I have them (safe, a lot more nature, more multi-cultural, free health-care and education, etc.).

0 ( +3 / -3 )

An interesting comment there Evan and that is something I will be keeping a very close eye on. From my experience so far (3 years) it has been a very good place to raise kids. The only downside being that we live in Tokyo and don't have a back garden (and genral lack of free/open space in the neighbourhood) but we live on a quiet side street in a decent size house and there's a cul-de-sac where the kids play, so it's not that bad and she doesn't know any different.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I have lived in Japan for 20 years and have 3 children in the public school system. Here are my thoughts. Yes it is a very good place to raise kids. On the positive side you have: It is a child centered culture; a very well organised school system; an excellent level of education (up until university); thoroughly dedicated teachers; doting Japanese parents and grand parents; nurturing, child centered environment; generally safe; lots of organised events for children; festivals dedicated to children; you don't need a lot of money to raise kids here

On the negative: School and education becomes the center of their lives; socializing revolves around club activities; say goodbye to any vacation time as your kids will be over scheduled, yes, there are a lot of tests in JHS and HS; there is a lot of competition education wise

However, overall it has been a very positive experience for them. They seem well adjusted and happy. Even though they are 'hafu' they haven't had any issues at school. They are treated equally, have fitted in well and have friends. So yes it is a good place to raise kids.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

There are many positives to raising kids in Japan, but those positives are greatly mitigated by your economic standing. If you can afford to carve out the time, I'd say it's a spectacular place to raise kids, with a host of heath benefits and child-centric learning opportunities, free or otherwise, from museum exhibits to interactive seminars to amusement areas catering specifically to children that are more learning oriented than not. Add to this a relatively safe surrounding environment and you've got a pretty good recipe for raising a socially responsible, intellectually inquisitive kid.

But if you aren't economically secure, well... Let's just say, one glance at the continually dropping birthrate is evidence enough that most Japanese just don't see having children as something viable anymore.

And the ever-growing number of families living paycheck-to-paycheck most likely aren't singing the virtues of Japan these days. After all, it's never been easy for the have-nots to sit back in quiet acceptance and watch the haves partake in the sweetest fruits of society, despite having put in an 8~10-hour day, just like the more fortunate among us.

Money makes a huge difference for child-rearing in Japan. But then again, where doesn't it?

1 ( +2 / -1 )


The problem is by the time they became a young adult looking for a job, about half of the male and three-fourth of the women will be working part time. What good is the education in Japan if majority of the population in 10 years will have part time job that is low paying and it might be impossible to get married and support a family. What is J-government doing about this to improve the situation?

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Money makes a huge difference for child-rearing in Japan. But then again, where doesn't it?

Great comment! Strictly speaking about raising kids though when you're not financially well-off, i would say it is better to raise them in Japan rather than the US.

Here, the poorer you are, the more likelihood of your kids joining gangs and doing drugs. Many middle-class people have never experienced or know just how bad the hood/barrio can be except by watching it on TV. At least in Japan, you don't have to worry about getting shot while walking back home, getting "hit-up" on the bus, etc. Of course there is the Bosozoku but they're just delinquent kids causing a ruckus. The gangsters live and claim their rep based on the street they live in all the while rival gangs from different streets are just the next block down. Everyday, day or night, someone is getting arrested in the neighborhood while sometimes witnessing the FBI raiding into your neighbors place. You can't get away from the violence since it occurs where you live. There is no respite.

Again, I highly doubt many of the commenters on this site lived through this stuff and can't imagine whether there is a place similar to this in Japan.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Yumster100 AUG. 03, 2015 - 12:38PM JST Strictly speaking about raising kids though when you're not financially well-off, i would say it is better to raise them in Japan rather than the US.

Problem in Japan is that high percentage of Japanese will not get married, or have children or future grandchildren. Japan’s population shrank by its largest amount on record in 2015. Japan’s declining population has a powerful impact on its economic situation, and not for the better

-1 ( +2 / -3 )


-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Compared to where??

Iraq or Syria- yes

Canada or Australia- no

2 ( +4 / -2 )

What an absurdly ludicrous question.

I mean, sure it can be a good place. Anywhere outside of a place that's occupied by ISIS or Boko Haram can be a good place to raise children.

As long as the child has the opportunity to grow up happy and healthy and has the ability to reach their potential, whatever it is, then any place within reason is a good place to raise them.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Yes, in my case, but we never lived in a big city without resort to Nature very close by.

As someone above said, we pulled our daughters out before junior high and sent them over the water to learn about their other culture. This ability to move in and out as much as possible is very important.

We were faced with a choice of nationality (Japanese government rule stipulating only one possible) for my younger daughter as she was about to hit 20, and for a number of reasons my wife decided to scrap her Japanese passport and nationality.

4 ( +5 / -2 )

Problem in Japan is that high percentage of Japanese will not get married, or have children or future grandchildren. Japan’s population shrank by its largest amount on record in 2015. Japan’s declining population has a powerful impact on its economic situation, and not for the better

My point was that if you were going to raise children with financial difficulties, it is better to raise them in Japan due to the reasons I mentioned above. I understand that population decline can lead to various difficulties but I doubt such problems will result in the ghettos that I mentioned in the US. Again, I'm comparing the two countries on a very narrow and specific circumstances: raising children when you are not financially comfortable and capable of doing so.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I think most modern countries are goof places to raise kids and being a little more than middle class makes it easier. That said.....I agree with the comments about the lack of diverse thinking fostered in Japan. Japan is small so same thought patterns can emerge easier. In the states (for example as it is my home country) in a major city with millions of people, there are so many ways of living and thinking even though we are pushed into the left or right just like Japan. In Atlanta where I am at the moment, there are large parks, and forests and lakes short drive away and places to go horeback riding or whatever. Even the average family get's together and drives to the beach on the gulf of Mexico. With a lil money excellent schools abound but in the bad side of town....well you know the deal. Japan is a nice place and I love it but raising kids is harder as the lives of children are so controlled by the schools and clubs to the point that the parents lives are affected (not always positively).

2 ( +4 / -2 )

It's OK - both good and bad.

I agree that the demands of school time are insane from Junior high on - so mark that down.

But I'm less worried about my kids becoming "molded" into cogs for the Japanese machine - basically because their father is a foreigner and they are familiar with life and people outside Japan. The system is set up to create unthinking robots, but that can't be done without the cooperation of the parents. Since most parents in Japan have gone through the same system and have never questioned it, most kids fall in line.

If my kids were in school in North America, on the other hand, I would have to worry about drugs and the overt sexualization and fame/money obsession that kids there are sucked into.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Tokyo is akin to living in the Matrix lol, im thankful we live in a semi rural area of Japan about 30km from the city. the traffic is light and since the public transport is limited we drive everywhere, our home is much larger than your average Japanse home, have plenty of space for car parking etc. we have 4 cars. Theres more space and parks for our kids to play. Being halfu kids they do get bullied a little for his last name, but my oldest boy is the size of kids 1~2 grades up so it rarely gets physical. But I teach my boys at an early age to be mentally tough and not take crap from other kids, never start a fight but your more than welcome to end it, and never be a bully yourself! The most annoying part of Japan is probably the elderly, they seem to think they have higher status than you because they are older, and respect is required not earned. The first sign of a snide or whinging comment from them and I give back twice as much. They STFU really quickly. My boys while now in elementary school will be attending an international school when the get to JHS. I think if you can afford it itll be better that they mix with other kids that are in similar social status as they are. Japan as a whole while expensive is a relative good place to bring up kids depending where you live in Japan, if you can handling all the petty BS that comes with living here then its fine

2 ( +5 / -3 )

So far it is. My son is very studious and gets good marks in all areas taught. The education system is effective although after elementary school it becomes too intense and demanding from my observations. Anyway until then they are taught well and get a nutritious lunch. Medical system is very good and affordable. So thats two criteria that are accounted for. It seems to be a safe place to live and violence levels towards children are low from strangers and other children from what I been able to glean so far. So far so good.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

As far as I can remember as a Gaijin Japan was a very children oriented place always felt safe mostly and there were lots of things to do people seemed to be more endearing to children as to what I had been used to in Oz can't speak for native Japanese tho I know they had it hard at school and expectations from parents and society and as my schooling and families house was paid for by dads work money was still tight but manageable it's an expensive place to live????????????????

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yes, up to the end of elementary school. Then get the hell out!

5 ( +6 / -1 )

nandaka: Most people are able to keep both passports.

Special education here is wonderful

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I am very grateful to have been raised and educated in Japan and studied abroad and traveled extensively. What matters is that you surround your children with love, happiness, and encouragement so they feel competent and have confidence to reach goals and to help them develop a sense of passion and purpose. In other words it's the education that happens before a child sets foot into school that is essential in bringing up such a child.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

to live with me, and enjoy true freedom as ELHI students, without the beatings, cruel comments and sweltering hea

So who is beating on these kids? Seems to me that there is a bigger problem than just location.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If your from the west other than gun toting violent US then your kids are likely better off not being raised in Japan. I hear a lot of its safe, ok till kindergarten finishes etc etc

BUT I am not hearing any Japan is GREAT, so many places to go things do, kids allowed to be KIDS, live is fantastic.....

All I am reading is its ok, safe.............that's well OK but doesn't seem very motivating & come on, look out whats out there when the childhood you never really even had is over!

Its pretty dismal & is one reason I am glad the mrs & I didn't have any kids, if I did & I stayed here putting them through typical J-schools etc I don't think I could ever forgive myself, but hey at least its safe!

Sure I am being harsh but look at the responses from most here, doesn't sound to me like their kids have much of a life, sorry just cant sugar coat it

1 ( +3 / -2 )

No. I don't like the culturally embedded gender roles and inequality, nor do I like the way children are moulded in to good little worker drones. Fortunately my children had gone through school before I came to Japan.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Gunma definitely is. Everyone come to Gunma. We have a Costco now!

2 ( +4 / -2 )

@wtfjapan @steve Good points. Overall, I think it's a good place to raise kids and a family as well, and I'd prefer it over, say, North America or most other Western countries. Having them go to an international school would be a good way to expose them to other cultures, though realistically not all would be able to afford it. In the end it comes down to the parents, how they raise their children, the values they instill, etc. that would have a greater impact on how their kids turn out. There are pluses and minuses to living here in Japan, as in any other country, though in my opinion the former outweighs the latter.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )


6th overall among OECD ranking and top in education and 'behavior and risks'.

I'd say it's a good place.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Thanks Nigel,

Always appreciate your links as well as your many well thought out posts. As I thought, my assupmtions were correct regarding the "behavior and risks" based on an official source.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Japan achieves middle ranking in the ‘Health and safety’ dimension, but is found in the bottom third of countries in‘Material well-being’. Japan ranks 22nd indicating it has one of the highest child poverty rates among 31 developed nations interms of relative child poverty rates.


1 ( +3 / -2 )


Yes, I know. Did you forget that I was comparing with 2 countries as well? The US and Japan?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It depends on whether you're in the countryside or a major city, but I think Japan is a great place to raise Japanese people, not to raise children

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@fouxdefa "I think Japan is a great place to raise Japanese people, not to raise children."

A bit off topic and applicable to most countries, but I LAUGHED thank you. For better or worse I think Japan is excellent at making other Japanese people as well.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

hepersoniamnow AUG. 04, 2015 - 02:25PM JST but I LAUGHED thank you. For better or worse I think Japan is excellent at making other Japanese people as well.

It's a big laugh for you. On a annul basis, the number of students who committed suicides exceeded over 1K. The suicide rate for Japan is roughly 60 percent higher than the global average. In the last 15 years in Japan, approximately 30,000 people committted suicides yearly.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

It's a big laugh for you. The suicide rate for Japan is roughly 60 percent higher than the global average

Japan's homicide rate is extremely low instead. So you can say the Japanese people are introverted.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

tinawatanabe AUG. 04, 2015 - 03:26PM JST Japan's homicide rate is extremely low instead. So you can say the Japanese people are introverted.

Japan can be a very stressful society to live in as the employment system is very rigid and it is not easy for those who have been laid off to find another job. It is not impossible but it is very challenging due to the rigid employment system created by Japanese government.

1 ( +2 / -1 )


Your reaction my comment is ridiculous. Where did you draw the conclusion that I am laughing at anyone's hardship or making light of suicide? We were talking about a completely different topic.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

hepersoniamnow AUG. 04, 2015 - 02:25PM JST but I LAUGHED thank you.

Where did you draw the conclusion that I am laughing at anyone's hardship or making light of suicide?

0 ( +0 / -0 )


Man, I usually take the time to make myself understood but I'm not sure that you and I have the same first language. You can't understand what the other person wrote and my response. There's another poster also saying your missing the point. But if it makes you feel better to run around bashing people online then ok. Have a nice day.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Great place so long as they have a second passport or other escape route for later life. Once there are less than 2 workers for every retiree things will get very tough for those still working & paying the taxes.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

nigelboy - interesting link. thanks.

To me however it reflects a rather jekyl & hyde situation. Not a realtively smooth balance overall, but instead a higher ranking achieved by high PISA scores & good behaviour / risks rating, dragging up the lower ranks. The much poorer performance in the fields of material wellbeing & health / safety (surprise?) suggest there are definitely some important things to be concerned about. A bit of lies, damn lies & statistics.

But back to the topic at hand - as anywhere there is good & bad. Even within the confines of my regional city, the quality of schooling is remarkably different depending on many factors - socio-economic environment, principals, staff and community. In addition, as has been mentioned a lot, the money factor is significant. My daughter has a lovely friend(girl) being raised by her mother together with 2 younger sisters. The friend is in 2nd year high school and has worked part-time every weekend and some nights since high school started - giving most of her meagre earnings to her mother. They live in a subsidised city apartment and really find it hard to make ends meet. She doesn't enjoy the freedom & material benefits of her peers. But she is lucky because her mother is so nice. Many others aren't.

My niece's first teaching job 5 years ago in an Osaka suburb elementary school - 40 year 3s - with 60% from single parent homes (read poor). You can imagine the behavioural/social problems some of this bunch of 9 yr olds had. To Sir with Love never had it so good.

In my case my daughter has enjoyed a pretty good life to date - schooling & otherwise - but as she has got older the quality of schooling esp leaves a lot to be desired. She often comments on it herself and the reality is - if we had enough money she'd be living OS. But we are thankful for our lot and don't complain, esp when considering that a large % of kids in the world have it really tough.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

That a child has a loving and supportive family is a million times more important than the actual location where he or she is raised.

(given that personal safety is guaranteed in that locality)

1 ( +1 / -0 )

i say yes.. but can be better if/when things go to the right direction.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The OP was spot on.

It depends, if like me you own many shares in businesses globally, it's a perfect place you raise your children .

If compared to the UK, you'll find that you need to be able to support your child's expenses on your own in Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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