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What changes are needed in Japanese society to stem the falling birthrate?

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what changes are not needed really?

They need to increase public childcare, make it easier to have a baby in terms of finances (baby bonuses and maternity leave payments ARE given, but they often dont come until a couple of months later, making it really hard for women to survive while on childcare leave) they need to give more money to parents to help with having more children. I know that most women wont have more than one or two, because of how expensive private education, juku, etc is.

They need to seriously implement punishments for companies who "mata-hara" women, and who consistently refuse to promote women, or raise their salary. They should implement workplace rules for men of young children, which are already in effect for women (Ie - a man who has a child under 3 is not allowed to work overtime) and then PUNISH companies who don't abide by them. Taking the pressure off the individual males to work overtime.

I would tax any married couple without children (for example, after three years of marriage) much more heavily than those who have a child or children. There is no reason a woman should get married, be a housewife, not work, and not raise kids, and receive a pension at the end of it for nothing. Those who do quit work to raise children, should receive a small salary from the government, until their child is 3 and can go to youchien.

Tax payments should be reduced substantially for every child you have - 10% for one child, 20% for two, etc.

Also I would say giving incentives to young women to have bigger families would be a better thing. A few hours a week of "restbite" childcare to mothers who have no family nearby to help, and just need a break. Money to help them, if they need it. A massive increase in child benefit. If you help with the financial strain caused to many young families, then I think that they would definitely have more children.

Free IVF to all under 35s who need it, along with a hefty baby bonus (not just to cover the hospital costs) after the babies are born. To be honest, with the birthrate as it is, we need lots of women in their 20s having two, or three children. Not all the 40 year olds having just one.

I am aware many people will disagree that women should be paid to have children, but I could not disagree more. Japan needs babies - they should see these kinds of policies as an investment. Women are treated badly in this country - I am not surprised they are all going on baby strike.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

Wowww!!! While some of the issues you mention would be a solid step in the right direction, this... "I would tax any married couple without children (for example, after three years of marriage) much more heavily than those who have a child or children." Is a bit heavy handed and draconian. Really? Penalize people who choose not to breed? Aren't they already paying taxes that go towards education, for children they will never even have? As far as housewives earning a pension, maybe that should be addressed separately? Maybe they should legislate the condom industry too? Say... Manufacturers are required to do their part, and provide holes in 1 of every 3 condoms manufactured? You can consider it a National lottery of sorts?

Honestly, if the declining birthrate is such a big deal, I would look towards simpler solutions. Can anybody say Immigration reform?

3 ( +6 / -3 )

I don't think any country should have more people than it can self-sufficiently feed. Is population of over 100 millions really a good thing for Japan?

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Increased immigration is not a magic bullet solution. There are huge costs to society involved with this. As the number of workers declines, more and more work can be shifted to lower cost overseas locations. This also helps companies cut costs and unlock shareholder value.

The best way to improve the birth is to have another massive war and a baby boom afterwards. But this isn't exactly something the government can propose.

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

More drugs so women know they won't have to endure bloody painful births.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

"I would tax any married couple without children (for example, after three years of marriage) much more heavily than those who have a child or children." Is a bit heavy handed and draconian. Really? Penalize people who choose not to breed? Aren't they already paying taxes that go towards education, for children they will never even have?

I do see your point about paying taxes, but if you look at how tax money is distributed, you would see they are paying a massively higher percentage of taxes into the pensions, and for welfare for the elderly, than they are towards children. That doesn't mean much now, its all money gone from your payslip, but think about the future...

If no-one is going to have kids, then who is going to be paying for people like I mentioned? The next generations childrens tax bills will be much larger than they are now, because of the massive disparity between how many old people there are, needing pensions, and needing care, and how many "young" people there are, working. Saving for old age is very uncommon in this country, because they know the state will pick up the tab.

At the same time, public schools are shutting down left right and centre, as are maternity units. If you were going to have a child tomorrow, It is almost inevitable you would have to pay for private education at some point if you want your child to have a decent education. The reason hoikuen places are in such high demand, is not because there are too many children.

Couples without children will need an awful lot of state assistance during their old age - much more so than the average elderly person with kids who will help in some way, either practical or financial. I cant help but feel there is something quite wrong about the fact that housewifes can claim a basic pension after a certain age, if they have never paid taxes, or contributed future taxpayers. Getting money for sitting at home eating chocolate all day seems just terribly unfair to me.

In the meantime, they are living a life with an almost completely disposable income. Women can earn up to an extra million yen a year without it affecting their husbands tax payments. Is this really okay, when we think about how huge our children, and possibly even grandchildrens, tax bills will be?

YES it is a couples choice not to have children, but it means they have a far higher disposable income than hard working families with children. It seems only fair that they should have to pay more tax.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Make it easier for women to stay at home and care for their children instead of trying to make them feel guilty because they're not 'contributing to society' in the workplace.

Link the 'free' pension to parenthood, eg., no need to pay kokumin nenkin premiums for (say) 10-12 years after the birth of a child. (The whole pension system needs a complete overhaul, but that's a separate topic).

Tax childless couples as two single people. If one half of the couple chooses/can afford not to work, split the family income in two and tax the two halves separately. Able-bodied people who choose not to work should be required to pay full rate for pension premiums, health insurance, local tax.

Make child-related expenses (clothing, books, education) exempt from consumption tax. Make the state contribution to medical expenses for kids 100%.

Close down all the juku and make the school curriculum more flexible.

Penalize people who choose not to breed?

It isn't penalising the non-breeders, but encouraging/rewarding the breeders.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

Great post cleo... agree with everything you said.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Japan needs to make it easier to afford children.

Tariffs and taxes make food twice to three times as expensive as in Europe or America, and anyone who has had children knows how expensive it is to feed them. Price fixing and corporate collusion also drive up the cost of goods, services, rents, and real estate; anti price-fixing laws (which already exist) must be enforced instead of being ignored.

Companies must be encouraged to get out of Tokyo and open more offices/facilities in other parts of the country. Young people are leaving the countryside to work in the big cities, and even when they find a job in these cities, they don't make enough money to buy or rent a place large enough for a family. The cost of living in the countryside is peanuts compared to Tokyo and Osaka, if people could get work outside the metro areas they could more easily afford to have children.

The government must be cut back in scale. Despite a population which is declining by half a million people each year, government size and cost are increasing at an unprecedented pace. Government should be limited to a smaller percentage of national GDP, the number of representives and bureaucrats should be tied to the number of citizens they serve.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Some of the things mentioned here are interesting. I would add that because of the type of culture that Japan is, I would show more history of how Japan was more family orientated and encourage it from a patriotic stance. I also think while child-minding may state that children are possible, most women can do their math and realize that child-care isnt worth the money being forked out-especially with more than 1 or 2 children. So I would encourage shopping areas to have child-minding facilities. Maybe that wouldnt be able to handle babies, but who wants to have their wee baby minded anyways; shopping with a baby is a lot easier than shopping with a toddler, or toddlers, pre-schoolers. In fact I would push this more than day care centres. Day care centres start the dialogue that is detrimental to encouraging family. I would spend a lot more time talking/promoting the historical viewpoint of large families, family values. And I wouldnt necessarily show it as the upper class who were like that-cause they werent-but the under-dog, who when things in Japan were getting crazy, just kept to themselves and valued the good things in life-family. Look online and you can find lots of photos of large families of Japan. Take a trip to Tohoku-for the tsunami people if you like-get into the surrounding areas and hear how many people did have or do have lots of children(of course theyre aging now). Help tertiary education travel expenses and accomodation expenses for people who are out of the main city areas. Usually medical is pretty available-make more driving schools , or perhaps driving teachers (that is not necessarily having to use a ground, but public roads witha qualified teacher and a learner-car available) in places off the main drags......

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What changes are needed in Japanese society to stem the falling birthrate?

To be quite blunt, maybe a Third World War and large-scale de-industrialization, as well as a massive spike in child mortality rates and the 100% slashing of social welfare provisions for senior citizens. All of the traditional incentives for having many children--the need to insure a future supply of farm hands to do the labor-intensive work of harvesting rice and other crops in the countryside, uncertainty about whether any children you do have will even survive to adulthood, and the need to have somebody take care of you if you are lucky enough to reach old age--have evaporated completely.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

The best countries in the world to live all have small populations. Keep the birthrate falling, I say.

http://www.businessinsider.com/wond-economist-where-to-be-born-index-2013-1

6 ( +9 / -3 )

In simple words, it's all about family really, the importance of it, the value of it, the value of love. Then deal with other problems that will concern our lives for the rest of our lives. After all they will always be there as it's part of it and cannot be controlled. What's failing is birthrate, what's failing is love in each homes of families, the bonding, the tradition, the respect to elders. If you don't have this, then you don't have any foundation.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

jefflee - I agree there are too many people in Japan, and in 100 years or so, it will be a much better place to live. But the problem is what to do until then. We need children to grow up and support the people who are already here...

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

I think that Marilita is right on the mark. As I was reading the other posts I was thinking to myself that the Japanese government will not be able to change this. The culture of Japan has been geared to value other things more than children. Including but not limited to: work, status (mostly in relation to work or wealth) and personal comfort.

The nation as a whole has to have a change of heart. This kind of change cannot be legislated.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Some interesting ideas overall.

But in order for Japan to improve things on the home front I think the ENTIRE country needs to be re-invented, birth rate is but one part of many that are in dire need of fixing, the time is beyond ripe(Japan has been rotting for a while now!) for these changes, but the Japanese need to toss abe as he only thinks about devaluing the yen( a temporary assist) & then wants to change the constitution, frankly there are a LOT more pressing needs!

BUT does the average Japanese see the need to change............... I think a few do & these people are increasing but very slowly............overall Japanese are a very fatalistic bunch I predict they will wait until they are really truly hammered, down & out on a massive scale before any real change has a chance & I wouldn't necessarily bet on the right changes being implemented unfortunately, sad to say but Japan seems doomed even though it could easily start making changes for the better it just WONT!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Kimukushii writes:

would tax any married couple without children (for example, after three years of marriage) much more heavily than those who have a child or children. There is no reason a woman should get married, be a housewife, not work, and not raise kids, and receive a pension at the end of it for nothing

That may be close to the least intelligent thing I have read on this site for a long while... and there is a very long list of prime examples to choose from

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Thank you Miyagi Ken. I'm glad you understood my point as much as I to yours.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Make it easier for women to stay at home and care for their children instead of trying to make them feel guilty because they're not 'contributing to society' in the workplace.

This is the problem, not the solution. It is too easy now for lazy women to just marry their way into idleness and then spend their days eating bon bons and watching TV. Why would they want kids to disturb their non-productive bliss. These are parasite wives and there are a lot of them in Japan.

The solution to Japan's birthrate problem is to make Japanese people feel more confident about the future of the county, and that means getting these lazy women working in part. GDP will increase significantly if more women work. If GDP goes up the sense of hope improves. If that happens couples will have more kids and as much research indicates the working couples will be better parents as well.

Right now society supports laziness in Japan. Making that easier is a silly idea.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Cleo said,"Make it easier for women to stay at home and care for their children instead of trying to make them feel guilty because they're not 'contributing to society' in the workplace.

Link the 'free' pension to parenthood, eg., no need to pay kokumin nenkin premiums for (say) 10-12 years after the birth of a child. (The whole pension system needs a complete overhaul, but that's a separate topic).

Tax childless couples as two single people. If one half of the couple chooses/can afford not to work, split the family income in two and tax the two halves separately. Able-bodied people who choose not to work should be required to pay full rate for pension premiums, health insurance, local tax.

Make child-related expenses (clothing, books, education) exempt from consumption tax. Make the state contribution to medical expenses for kids 100%.

Close down all the juku and make the school curriculum more flexible."

@Cleo. When you decide to run for office may I volunteer for campaign staff? Great ideas!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Good idea! I mean generally it is the white collar workers that arent interested in family anyways-that's the upper class I was talking about. They can get some sort of surreal sounding job and work. And it's the under-dog-well actually you could possibly call them blue collar but that just sounds demeaning-baggy-pants would hit the mark better and sounds a lot more classy-that have a better sense of family value, and they know how to work hard and do the dirty work. So just give them the idea that being at home and raising a family is idlic and a bonbon life. That's the trick!

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Too late. Japan, through the "leadership" of the LDP has made it virtually impossible for the current generation of potential parents to be able to realistically afford child rearing. The tax rates, pension/social costs, debt loads, energy costs, and now the cost of rebuilding, are simply more than can be handled, especially given Japan's extremely high day-to-day costs, like food and housing. The die was cast years ago when the country refused to face reality and just kept kicking the can down the road.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Yeah, I don't have kids. So tax me more. What a bunch of bullshit. Stop the cronyism and the peoples money will follow.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It is too easy now for lazy women to just marry their way into idleness and then spend their days eating bon bons and watching TV. Why would they want kids to disturb their non-productive bliss. These are parasite wives and there are a lot of them in Japan.

Anyone who has kids knows that with a baby/toddler in the house, Mum is not spending her days 'eating bonbons and watching TV'. Maybe you missed the bit where I specified it should be easier for women to stay at home to care for their children. Not to eat bonbons. Not to watch TV. I also suggested a number of measures to discourage the stay-at-home, non-productive parasite wives, who I do not think should be getting a free ride - nor should their husbands be getting a live-in housekeeper subsidised by less affluent tax-payers.

Either admit you read my post wrong, or explain where I suggest making laziness easier.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

The following changes need to happen in companies in Japan:

Remove the "part-time" classification - People either work for you, or they don't. No "part-time". Too many companies string young people along promising promotion to "full-time", but making them work full-time hours for part-time pay, and they can't complain because they have little or no legal protection and any hope of full-time will disappear. It delays young people's financial independence and ability to marry and have children for at least 5 years, in some case 10 years. It also depletes young people's savings as they're forced to pay higher medical aid and pension as their employer saves money by classifying them as "part-time". This means that they take longer to save up to get married and move into their own place.

Mid-career entry and exit - At the moment women who leave the workforce to have children have massive problems re-entering the workforce. I'm not saying that women should (or shouldn't) work, but if they want to have a kid and then come back to work that should be an option. At the moment it just isn't. At best they get "part-time" work (see above).

Forced relocations - At the moment the company points to a spot in Japan and the salary man is expected to pack his bags and go. Failure to do so results in denied promotions, hostility and a toxic workplace. This sort of forced relocation system often results in families being split up as the salary man works 5 prefectures over and can only come home once a month, forcing the wife to do everything... plus sex is difficult from 5 prefectures away.

More flexible working arrangements - In Japan you need to be in the office, even if your job could be done from your home PC and just emailed in. Too many companies force their employees to come into the office every day, and even relocate to the head office in hideously expensive and un-child-friendly locations like Tokyo and Osaka. I have a friend who's in sales and his company wants him to relocate to Osaka, despite the fact that 4 days out of 5 he's traveling to other prefectures across Japan to meet with clients. He's raging about the cost of accommodation in Osaka and how he'll be paying for a tiny apartment that he'll see perhaps 2 nights a week. Japan really needs to join the 21st century and reap the benefits of telecommuting for both the employer and employee. Plus its hard to nip home for an afternoon quickie if your office is an hour from home, but if you're already at home...

I could go on, but the bottom line is that the problem is Japan is the medieval mindset in most Japanese companies. They really need to move into the 21st century.

-6 ( +5 / -11 )

Right with you, Frungy. I don't know why you got so many thumbs down for that comment.

I, personally, find myself torn. Does Japan really even need to increase its population that much? I know there's going to be a social welfare time-bomb when the ratio of elderly to working-age people gets skewed in the next 50 years. But if that can be solved (not that I know how), why can't Japan be content to see its population level off? Japan can be an obscenely crowded place at times, and I just don't think it can stably support many more millions of people.

But, if you REALLY decide you need more population, than, yeah. Bring the work environment out of the 1950s, get the wages up and the job security up, and just set out some policies that make people freaking HAPPY. Happy people have babies. Again, I'm not sure what this might entail. A better social welfare safety net, for one. More green space in cities. Larger apartments. Improved public transportation. Encourage entrepreneurs.

I personally could never see myself having a child (in the U.S. or in Japan) because I don't make enough money to comfortably support a family (even though I have a good, stable job by today's standards) and because I'm, frankly, not in the mood to bring a child into the world in the state that it's in.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

anyone who supports higher taxes as an incentive to have babies has little to zero understanding of economics. You can vote that down as much as you like. It doesn't make you any smarter.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

LBW2010Apr. 07, 2014 - 02:24AM JST Right with you, Frungy. I don't know why you got so many thumbs down for that comment.

Thanks. Don't sweat the thumbs-downs, they're really irrelevant.

I, personally, find myself torn. Does Japan really even need to increase its population that much?

I can see your point and agree to a certain extent, however I see the population dip as symptomatic of the sort of problems that people have pointed out here. The Japanese are facing an economic crunch-point and they're resorting to their old strategy, working HARDER, when they should be working SMARTER.

-13 ( +3 / -16 )

People need to start doing it more. That`s about it.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Default on the government debt, and hit rock bottom.After a while young people at the age to have kids might feel optimistic about their, and their potential children's future. Rather than the current situation which feels like the country is dying on its backside serving the interests of old men.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

**Make it easier for women to stay at home and care for their children instead of trying to make them feel guilty because they're not 'contributing to society' in the workplace.

Link the 'free' pension to parenthood, eg., no need to pay kokumin nenkin premiums for (say) 10-12 years after the birth of a child. (The whole pension system needs a complete overhaul, but that's a separate topic).

Tax childless couples as two single people. If one half of the couple chooses/can afford not to work, split the family income in two and tax the two halves separately. Able-bodied people who choose not to work should be required to pay full rate for pension premiums, health insurance, local tax.

Make child-related expenses (clothing, books, education) exempt from consumption tax. Make the state contribution to medical expenses for kids 100%.

Close down all the juku and make the school curriculum more flexible.

Penalize people who choose not to breed?

It isn't penalising the non-breeders, but encouraging/rewarding the breeders.**

It's too easy for them to stay home now Cleo - which is why so many do. Not worth working considering the benefits of staying home - breeding or not. If anything, the reverse needs to be done. Make it easier for women who want to work and stop making them feel bad for wanting to go back to work or needing to go back to work. With that, free day for FT working mothers. Women are refusing to get married and to have kids because they don't "just" want to be a mommy. My husband works for a top company and most of his female coworkers are single and don't want to get married. Why? They don't want to have to quit work to have a family so... they pick a secure future with a steady income rather than insecurity that comes with being jobless and dependent. It shoudn't be either or but it is here. Women aren't made to feel bad about quitting - it's expected of them so I am not sure where you think this guilt comes from. Working moms are the ones getting the guilt trips. From SAHM.

I would agree with you about pension and health care but only up to the age of seven. Once the kiddies are in ele school, mommy goes back to work or pays her fair share to stay at home and "tend" to the house. No kiddies or adults to look after and not working? Pay your way - or I guess that should be make the husband pay their way. I'd also suggest that if they are sending their kids to yochien they can get a job or start paying. If they can afford yochien fees, they can pay their way as they aren't at home with the kids.

Childless couples ARE taxed as two people - if the woman is working FT or making more than 1.3 million. This "punishes" working couples by rewarding those with a spouse at home. I pay taxes - income, pension, health care, city... as does my husband. Why are my taxes going towards someone with a 13 year old child at school who is able bodied and not working??

I agree with your tax exemptions and would take it a step futher. Free schooling up until the end of high school. Get rid of expensive school uniforms, buying of textbboks every year and silly trips to Hiroshima, Hokkaido and Okinawa. Poorer families can't afford these things. Having a baby should 100% be covered under health insurance. Yes, there is a lump sum but it does NOT cover everything in the long run - more so for those who wish to have testing done or epiderals. Make it 100% free.

One shouldn't be "rewarded" for having kids and there should be no pressure on those who don't want or can't have them. Why should a couple unable to have kids face penalties? If people don't want kids, why should they be pressured? Offer tax incentives to those with kids is not the same thing as tax those childless more.

Cleo, some women with small kids ARE at cafes having cake and coffee with their friends. Jr. is at yochien from about 8:30-3:30. Or at least all the rugrats over the age of three in my neighbourhood are. I've been invited to "lunch" with the mommies. Sure, not all are out and not all send their kids off for the day but to suggest that all moms of young kids are chained at home, baby to their breast, up to their eyeballs in cleaning is wrong.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

tmarie-

Women aren't made to feel bad about quitting - it's expected of them so I am not sure where you think this guilt comes from.

You need to read more carefully. I said trying to make them feel guilty, which is what the current Abe administration is doing with all this talk of Japan 'needing' female labour and women at home being a 'waste'.

I would agree with you about pension and health care but only up to the age of seven

I suppose the time period is negotiable. I chose 10-12 because most women I know are ready to go back to work when the youngest child hits junior high or thereabouts. Seven year olds are coming home at 2 or 3 o'clock, if Mum wants to go PT there's no problem, but FT means the kid is left hanging, most mothers aren't ready for that. If I'd been told I'd have to leave my kids in some kind of day care when they entered elementary school so that I could work FT, I probably wouldn't have had kids. I don't see the point in putting in all the expense and hard work if you let someone else have all the fun of actually raising the child, but that's just me. Mothers should do this or Mothers should do that is counterproductive; what's needed is flexibility so that people don't feel guilty when they make the decision that they feel is right for themselves and more importantly their children - whichever way that decision goes.

Childless couples ARE taxed as two people - if the woman is working FT or making more than 1.3 million. This "punishes" working couples by rewarding those with a spouse at home.

And I pointed out that that needs to change. Childless, able-bodied couples who can afford to have one spouse not working should not be given all the tax breaks, free pensions etc., etc., that they get now, subsidised by less affluent working couples. I don't see why you would take issue with it.

I pay taxes - income, pension, health care, city... as does my husband. Why are my taxes going towards someone with a 13 year old child at school who is able bodied and not working??

So do I, so does my husband. So does my son. There is no reason for our taxes to be subsidising able-bodied people who choose not to work...but you do realise that you are subsidising the 13-year-old, and are offering to subsidise him/her even more?

Free schooling up until the end of high school.

Yes. I would subsidise uni too, for those with the ability. Also open more avenues for the less academically-minded so that parents don't feel that they have to move heaven and earth to get junior into a university no matter what.

Why should a couple unable to have kids face penalties? If people don't want kids, why should they be pressured?

Who is suggesting penalties? Or pressure? People who need to be pressurised into having kids aren't the kind of people who should be having kids.

some women with small kids ARE at cafes having cake and coffee with their friends.

...and that is bad because why? You would prefer the cafes closed down through lack of custom and the cafe staff be put out of a job?

Jr. is at yochien from about 8:30-3:30.

Mine used to be home by 2. Hardly time to shift the breakfast dishes, hang the washing out and get the shopping in.

to suggest that all moms of young kids are chained at home, baby to their breast, up to their eyeballs in cleaning is wrong.

No one is suggesting that the mothers of young kids are chained at home up to their eyeballs in cleaning. Neither are they lying on the sofa eating bonbons and watching telly.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The population is too high already, let it naturally fall to about 80 million before worrying about getting the growth up again.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@davestrousers ... Default on the government debt, and hit rock bottom ...

That's pretty dramatic and difficult to control what happens ... could get pretty ugly. Trying to hold long term inflation at 3% using Quantitative Easing (printing money) would devalue the debt and hence open up the future. The would be losers and winners to be sure, but overall might help to keep Japan's wheels spinning.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I said trying to make them feel guilty, which is what the current Abe administration is doing with all this talk of Japan 'needing' female labour and women at home being a 'waste'.

I don't see that at all. Japan does need more workers and let's be honest, plenty of women at home who can easily be out earning their keep and paying taxes. More guilt heaped on the working moms by far. Surely you agree with that.

Seven year olds are coming home at 2 or 3 o'clock, if Mum wants to go PT there's no problem, but FT means the kid is left hanging, most mothers aren't ready for that. If I'd been told I'd have to leave my kids in some kind of day care when they entered elementary school so that I could work FT, I probably wouldn't have had kids. I don't see the point in putting in all the expense and hard work if you let someone else have all the fun of actually raising the child, but that's just me.

But that's just it. School times here for ele kids are messed up because there is the assumption that moms are home. Why not add more hours to the day and cut the number of days that kids attend a year? This would give families longer holidays to spend with their kids. They wouldn't need daycare, they would be learning what they learn now, just in better managed time chunks.

As for allowing others to have all the fun, I don't see how it is any different than parents sending their kids to yochien, juku, swimming and all the other activities parents here seem to shove their kids into. There is no need for club activities to be held on weekends as yes, I agree, give the parents some time with their kids. The sad thing is though, many parents don't actually want that time - hence many parents supporting going back to Saturday school, juku on weekends... I often wonder why folks here have kids as they never seem to spend any time with them. Stay at home moms, from what I have seen, often spend far less time with their kids than working moms "home" when you factor in the daily life of a JHS child here - school, club, juku... Kids eating dinner at juku, to me, is just wrong. More so when mom or dad could help Jr. study and pass. Very few of the foreigners I know here with uni aged kids sent their kids to juku and helped their kids study. Why more J parents don't do the same is beyond me. Easier to pay someone else I guess. Why have kids then though?

And I pointed out that that needs to change. Childless, able-bodied couples who can afford to have one spouse not working should not be given all the tax breaks, free pensions etc., etc., that they get now, subsidised by less affluent working couples. I don't see why you would take issue with it.

I took issue with it because what you wrote suggested that both aren't taxed. They are when both are working, they aren't when one is a parasite. I 100% agree with what you wrote just above though.

There is no reason for our taxes to be subsidising able-bodied people who choose not to work...but you do realise that you are subsidising the 13-year-old, and are offering to subsidise him/her even more? 100% agree there is no reason. I also 100% realise I have paying for the education and health of 13 year olds and have no issues with that. I certainly have an issue with mommy getting subsidies though.

Yes. I would subsidise uni too, for those with the ability. Also open more avenues for the less academically-minded so that parents don't feel that they have to move heaven and earth to get junior into a university no matter what. There is where we disagree. Unis are letting in students who clearly have no business being in uni as it is. Making it free would only make it worse and make a degree even more worthless than it is already. I do believe that the attitude of "everyone should go to uni" needs to change and be done away with - here and home. There is nothing wrong with a trade but there is a whole lot wrong with a society who is raising people to believe that uni education is the be all and end all - and creating people who think they are too good to get their hands dirty because they went to some crappy uni that even a monkey could get into as long as they had the cash to pay for tuition.

Who is suggesting penalties? Or pressure? People who need to be pressurised into having kids aren't the kind of people who should be having kids. Kimuzu in his first post. That you suggested wasn't punishment when someone disagreed with them. "It isn't penalising the non-breeders, but encouraging/rewarding the breeders." I think it is punishing folks to raise taxes on them because they don't have kids. I also don't think anyone should be "encouraging" couples to have kids with promises of tax breaks and money. You don't have kids for those reasons. Well, any decent person doesn't but if you ask the welfare moms back home having more kids for more money...

...and that is bad because why? You would prefer the cafes closed down through lack of custom and the cafe staff be put out of a job? Could you point out where I suggested this? My comment was in regards to your Anyone who has kids knows that with a baby/toddler in the house, Mum is not spending her days 'eating bonbons and watching TV'. Because let's be honest, many moms ARE spending their days eating bonbons and watching TV. Though that would be bonbons at a dept store and watcing TV on their smartphone. I've seen it, I've been invited to it. Just this week I turned down an invite for lunch with "yummy mummies" who just had kids less than six months ago. Why? Because I have a job.

Mine used to be home by 2. Hardly time to shift the breakfast dishes, hang the washing out and get the shopping in. Seriously? I can have the dishes washed, the laundry washed, out, done, dried and folded, the shopping done and the dog walked before... 11:00. Chore time expands to fill up free time. I also managed to get all that done and hold down a FT job. Indeed, no kids but when the kids are out of your hair for the majority of daylight hours...

Neither are they lying on the sofa eating bonbons and watching telly. Yes, many are. Three meals and a nap. You translate, surely you've heard that expression. I spent time with some of my J mother housewife friends with children under two over the past month while I was on holiday - same group who wanted to go to lunch. When I asked what they did all day many of them said they stayed home and watched TV. That and Costco seems to be a hit since its new in my area. You were a mom is a very different time Cleo. Things have changed. Washing machines take less time, some have roobma, some have dish washers...

The good news is, the government is actually thinking of scrapping the benefits for parasite wives. Was an article in the Japan Times on April 4th about it. My concern with this is, where is all this needed childcare going to come from??

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How about spending less time on cell phones!

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plenty of women at home who can easily be out earning their keep and paying taxes.

The topic is What changes are needed to stem the falling birth rate, not Who should decide how other people spend their time. I really don't care if other people decide to go to work or stay at home if they can afford it, any more than I would care for other people telling me how I should spend my time and/or my money. The taxes thing I addressed, but you seem to insist on telling me I'm wrong - and then agreeing with me.

Why not add more hours to the day and cut the number of days that kids attend a year? This would give families longer holidays to spend with their kids.

I think that would be a very good idea, except that we know those 'longer holidays' would not be more time for parents to spend with their kids, because the parents would still be working all hours. It would end up with teachers having a longer working day, plus more days working over the year because they'd get roped in for extra 'club activities' to keep the kids off the streets during those longer holidays when parents aren't around.

Stay at home moms, from what I have seen, often spend far less time with their kids than working moms

Then what you've seen is different from what I've seen and experienced personally.

There is where we disagree. Unis are letting in students who clearly have no business being in uni as it is. Making it free would only make it worse

Again, you're reading only what you want to read and ignoring what I'm saying. I specifically said that uni should be free for those with the ability. Not for kids who clearly have no business being in uni. And i said that non-academic kids should be given other avenues. Again, you're taking issue on something we basically agree on.

I do believe that the attitude of "everyone should go to uni" needs to change and be done away with - here and home. There is nothing wrong with a trade but there is a whole lot wrong with a society who is raising people to believe that uni education is the be all and end all

No issue with that, I agree completely.

Because let's be honest, many moms ARE spending their days eating bonbons and watching TV

No. You described a bunch of 'yummy mummies' getting together for lunch - that's a break, not a whole day lounging around, and not every day. As a working lady, are there not times when you want a bit of R&R? Why should a mother be any different?

You were a mom is a very different time Cleo. Things have changed. Washing machines take less time, some have roobma, some have dish washers...

lol How long ago do you imagine I was raising my kids? Reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar to them by gaslight and gathering firewood to heat the bath? Spreading rushes on the floor and taking the laundry down to the river?

The good news is, the government is actually thinking of scrapping the benefits for parasite wives.

That would be good news, but I won't hold my breath waiting for it to happen. When the DPJ got into power that was one of the first things they suggested, and it came to nothing.

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Cleo, you might want to read the research out there with regards to a) women who know they will have childcare and the number of kids they have and b)how Japanese women aren't having kids because they don't want to stay at home. The two are linked and research has proven so. The tax thing and what you first wrote and what you wrote later was not the same. You seemed to suggest that both people were not taxed - they are. When one is working. If folks can afford to have someone stay home, great. But they need to pay to support that choice. I have zero issues with women staying home - and eating sweets and watching TV - if they are paying for that choice. This has been explained before.

No, my suggestion wouldn't mean teachers work longer hours - I stated that I don't agree with club on weekends. Get rid of it. And with both parents working, one doesn't have to feel the pressure of slaving at the office. I think there would be a better work/life balance. My husband leaves work far ealier than his coworkers because we don't have just his salary. The same seems to hold true to others who also have both partners working.

If parents aren't around, day camps. Just like home. Great summer jobs for HS students and university students. As it is now, plenty of large companies are offering a week off at golden week, a week off at oben and nearly two weeks at the end of the year. Where is Jr? Club. Get rid of it and stop expecting teachers to be free childcare for parents who don't want their kids around.

And what you experiences personally was how many years ago? Times have changed Cleo. Surely you can see that with your daughter, who works FT, no?

I read the ability comment but I also know how universities work and how many are set up as businesses with profit in mind. There would be no way they would only let in those who deserved to go. They don't do that now even with parents paying.

I've not suggested there is anything wrong with mommies wanting R&R. I just don't think they are anywhere near as busy as you wish they were. Again, times have changed. Based on your comments, I know you were a mom when I was a child. It was a long time ago. You know,around the time VCRs first came out, microwaves weren't an everyday thing... Setting your kid in front of the TV to play games for hours on end...

I won't hold my breath either - no way are the parasite wives/mommies going to allow it to happen. Short sighted and it will be us and their kids who pay for it in the future with taxes, less health care and little pension payouts. At least I've got personal savings and pension.

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The tax thing and what you first wrote and what you wrote later was not the same. You seemed to suggest that both people were not taxed - they are. When one is working.

When both are working, both are taxed. When one is working, the one who is not working gets a free pension and the one who is working gets tax/health care subsidies to support the one who is not working. Splitting the family income between the two, removing subsidies and having them pay their way would go a long way towards dealing with the problems you and I have with regard to non-working, childless women who at the moment are getting a free ride.

If folks can afford to have someone stay home, great. But they need to pay to support that choice. I have zero issues with women staying home - and eating sweets and watching TV - if they are paying for that choice. This has been explained before.

I don't care if hubby pays, just so long as ordinary working people don't have to. As I say, we are on the same page here.

my suggestion wouldn't mean teachers work longer hours

lol. Wishful thinking. This is Japan.

If parents aren't around, day camps. Just like home.

It might be just like your home, but I have no experience of day camps. I have no idea if they're good or bad.

Times have changed Cleo. Surely you can see that with your daughter, who works FT, no?

She works FT but is at present in the middle of a 3-year ikuji kyuka, so she's at home with a one-year-old and a soon-to-be 4 year old. For the first child she took just one year off and learned for herself that it was not long enough. In another two years, who knows? She may decide she doesn't want to put her toddler in day care, that she can do a better and more important job at home chasing after two tinies than out on the street chasing villains. Either way it will be her choice and she will have the full support of both sets of parents whichever way she chooses.

I read the ability comment but...

....but you decided to ignore it because it didn't suit your platform?

I know you were a mom when I was a child. It was a long time ago. You know,around the time VCRs first came out, microwaves weren't an everyday thing... Setting your kid in front of the TV to play games for hours on end...

You crack me up, you really do. Sorry to burst your time bubble, but VCRs and microwaves were around and an everyday thing long before I was even married, never mind a Mum. I'm not sure if you're accusing me of sitting my kids in front of the TV to play games for hours on end (I didn't) or informing me of modern parenting practices, but those game machines have also been around a long, long time. We choose not to have one in the house until we reckoned the younger of our kids was old enough to control his gaming urges.

At least I've got personal savings and pension.

Each to his/her own, but I think what I have trumps what you have. We've made our choices, you're happy with what you have, I'm happy with what I have, and we'd both be happier if we had more of the things we treasure?

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When both are working, both are taxed. Well aware of this - as I pointed out. Your comment was "Tax childless couples as two single people. If one half of the couple chooses/can afford not to work, split the family income in two and tax the two halves separately. Able-bodied people who choose not to work should be required to pay full rate for pension premiums, health insurance, local tax.". I am part of a childless couple, we both pay taxes, hence the comment. I 100% agree with your comments as to how folks with spouses not working should be taxed

lol. Wishful thinking. This is Japan. I know. One of these days they might wake up and realise that expecting slaves and worker bees is why no one is having kids but until then... I can wish and dream.

It might be just like your home, but I have no experience of day camps. I have no idea if they're good or bad. I didn't go to any as a kid - even though both of my parents worked. Had great HS students as babysitters and had lots of fun. And spent weekends camping and the like with my parents. A shame Japan can't get their heads around the idea of kids not needing to be stuck at school all summer and daddy stuck at the office.

She may decide she doesn't want to put her toddler in day care, that she can do a better and more important job at home chasing after two tinies than out on the street chasing villains. Either way it will be her choice and she will have the full support of both sets of parents whichever way she chooses. A more important job at home? No judgement though, right?

....but you decided to ignore it because it didn't suit your platform? I decided to ignore it because I know how the system works here and know that unis here wouldn't scale back on student enrollment numbers. If uni was free here, I shudder to think of the private unis that would open up for the money - it's bad enough as it is.

You've mentioned the age of your kids on here. Your daughter is just a few years younger than I am. I know what I had when I was a kid. Wasn't suggesting you shoved your kids in from of the TV for the Atari, Super Mari or Tetris. Many parents these days are however using games as babysitters - be it home or when out.

We've made our choices, you're happy with what you have, I'm happy with what I have And rather than just leave it at that, you have to comment that you think what you have trumps what I have? There's that judgement again... For all you know, I could have three kids, be a SAHM and enjoy eating sweets in front of the TV... Gee, three kids... would that make my life trump yours? Oh wait, doesn't matter as long as each is happy with what they have. But no judgement...

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A more important job at home? No judgement though, right?

If she makes that decision, then yes that is her judgement. She might decide that going back to work and earning money to pay for their education is more important. That would be her judgement, too.

I decided to ignore it because I know how the system works here and know that unis here wouldn't scale back on student enrollment numbers.

There would be no need for private unis to scale back on enrollment numbers. If the academically gifted were the only ones getting non-returnable grants to go to uni, the rest of the students, the not-so-gifted, would either pay their way as they do now (ie their parents pay, in most cases), or opt for the less academic avenues, vocational learning, trade, etc., that were also mentioned as part of the package.

And rather than just leave it at that, you have to comment that you think what you have trumps what I have? There's that judgement again...

And I'm assuming that you think what you have trumps what I have. Am I wrong?

Gee, three kids... would that make my life trump yours?

Not if you didn't want them.

doesn't matter as long as each is happy with what they have

Again, I don't see what you are seeing the need to take issue with. You made your choices, I made my choices, we're both happy (aren't we?). So what's the problem? How do my choices threaten you?

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You suggested FREE university. I guess you only want it for the few select that can afford juku, the right schools, the right prep tests and the like to get them through the process?

I suggested subsidised university for those with the ability. As part of the same packet I also suggested more flexible curricula in schools and greater scope for non-academic kids to be successful without needing a university degree. I also suggested that juku should be shut down. If people think each kid is going to cost them a considerable fortune to educate to an acceptable level - at the moment that involves those juku, right schools, tests and the like that neither of us like - then they're less likely to think they can afford to have kids.

a system where it is free for some but others pay? .... that is the system already

What?

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It's going to need some HUGE changes, which can be done, if only there were enough political will. LDP is not going to do it. Too much vested interests and corporatist ideology.

Well it can be helped by obviously supporting the mothers, for starters. In both at home AND at work. They need free or supported day-care support. All companies must have day-care centers nearby. Make it mandatory to take plenty of maternity leave. Make it easier for women to come back to work after rearing children. The society should accept mothers more. Make it easier for people to travel around with their strollers. Accommodate public transports and the like for people who travel with their babies. Increase public awareness.

Make public education up to senior high school free (which is unbelievably NOT free). University education should be financially supported as well. Most child-related things should be exempt from taxes. Daily necessities should be exempt from taxes (fruits and vegetables are outrageously expensive, 5x the world's average).

The rent and the cost of land should be lowered. Most people in Japan can't even afford to buy houses, while corporations are favored at the expense of the middle class. Corporations will only have to pay a fraction of what ordinary people pay for land and rent.

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What?

I guess you are unaware of scholarships and the like. Didn't you comment lol. Wishful thinking. This is Japan at one point? My thinking with your suggestions towards education here. As someone who works in the system, your suggestions will never happen because it is all about getting bums on uni seats and collecting their tuition. I don't with it but that is how the system is run here - and in most other countries these days.

Oh and as for threatened, the Mod seemed to think I was being "impolite" by pointing out you are no way "threatening" to me and I certainly do not compare my life to yours, others and the like. I also don't think my life "trumps" yours as I don't play silly little games comparing myself and trying to keep up or ahead of the Jones'. Seems you do? A shame. Life is far too short to worry about such things.

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I guess you are unaware of scholarships and the like.

There are very few non-returnable scholarships in Japan. Certainly not enough to say that they are 'the system'.

it is all about getting bums on uni seats and collecting their tuition

I think you're talking about private schools and colleges - well yes, they're businesses and they need the money, and for some (not all) making ends meet is more important than maintaining high standards. (Though some private schools do have bursaries and scholarship programmes, so they aren't all about the money and nowt but the money). I'm talking about state education, which is already cheaper than private and has no problem putting 'bums on seats'. From comments you've made in the past about the academic level/social attitudes of your students, I gather you work in a 'bums on seats' place. That doesn't mean every other educational institution in the country is at the same level.

I don't play silly little games comparing myself and trying to keep up or ahead of the Jones'.

You mean like trumpeting about how independent you are, with your personal savings and private pension?

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If you think public schools aren't worried about enrollment and student numbers these days, you're a little out of touch with what is going on. You're also, again, making assumptions about my life. Wrong ones at that. What was that comment about feeling threatened?

My comments were with regards to the future of the penion system collapsing. Has nothing to do with "trumping" folks. A shame you seem to want to create drama where there is none. At your age I figured you'd be beyond such things. Guess not. As usual Cleo, it's been "fun".

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