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

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Encourage production of children (and formation of families). Money is the strongest bait. The government should "reward" those who contribute to society.

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More sex?

On a more serious note, more maturity on the part of 20 ~ 30 year olds. If buying the latest Hello Kitty PC sends them into a frenzy feed, perhaps they should resist the urge to reproduce. How to make them more mature? Another good question.

While money is a strong bait, I wonder how many men will rush out to have a child just because they'll get a tax break - which they already do. How many women will jump at the chance of a few more shekels if they had to go through childbirth?

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slow news week - must be about the 20th time this year seen something like this.

There is a similar story going on the drop in population and plenty of good arguments there

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Monetary rewards are probably a big part of the answer, but the simplistic notion of chucking a lump sum at new parents to cover the costs of childbirth is totally out of focus. If a couple feel they can't afford the initial outlay, there's no way they're going to feel able to bear all the costs of raising a child to adulthood. Babies/infants/toddlers cost next to nothing to care for. It probably does cost more to keep a dog. Once the child starts formal education, that's when the bank account begins to groan.

The state could cover the cost of childbirth as an extra if it wants, but much more important is free medical care for all children; free education in line with the child's ability and aptitude; and tax breaks with real bite in them, eg. let couples choose whether they want to be taxed as a couple or as individuals, and significantly lower the tax rate for couples with children. Alternatively, implement a childlessness tax (not so sure that would go down well, mind...) And to combat the widespread and not unfounded notion that women with children lose out in the workplace, either lower the lifelong premiums or increase the payout for pensions for people with children - after all, they're doing more to alleviate the coming pension/welfare crunch than the childless are, while the childless are able to earn more if they don't have to take time off work for child care.

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Cleo - much of what you say I agree with, however a childlessness tax might be adding insult to injury to those who simply cannot have children. Much better to incentivise families by tax breaks and a support system for families to encourage women not to work - and also to give fathers time at home. The lifestyle of most couples is what prevents them from having children. Far too long work hours for too little pay for most people makes children an unappealing prospect, even for those who would otherwise have them

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I don't know if paying people to have babies is necessarily a good thing for this society or any other. With it, sure, you might end up with higher birthrates, but also an increased chance that the people giving birth aren't doing it for the right reasons. Having a child shouldn't be presented as a path to short-term financial gain. Quality still remains preferable to quantity in most things, and that includes parenting.

With that said, getting the current and future generations to look at adulthood with a little more seriousness than how much material crap they can acquire in as short amount of time as possible is a good place to start. Wanna’ see rampant materialistic consumerism gone wild? Come to Japan. A good place to start with setting things upright again, IMO, is with smacking the cell phone industry upside the head with the iron bar of common sense. A new phone model released by the Big 3 every 6 1/2 months?! And at 3-5 man yen a pop?! And everyone rushes out to buy the damned things. It’s no wonder Japan is the world’s largest repository for recyclable precious metals like iridium.

Also, study after study has discovered that young people eschew families today because it would cut too much into their fun time and fun money. It really comes down to just that. Until someone can convince the current generation of 20-somethings that blowing cash with reckless abandon for personal pleasure alone isn’t doing society any favors, the problem won’t fix itself. Okay. Rant over…

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fireant...Actually, the "more sex" suggestion is right on target. A survey I saw said 40% of Japanese marriages are "sexless" -- by definition, having sex less than once a month. Now, it is likely that a high percentage of these marriages are among the older folks, but still, there appears to be a problem in quantity here. (The average for all married couples was only like 3.6 times a month.) If men are strapped to their desks, and too tired or drunk to have sex when they get home, then the random or accidental pregnancy is not as likely. Simple math. One of my children was of the "surprise" variety. I get the sense that sort of thing does not happen nearly as frequently here in Japan.

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how about the obvious like maternity/paternity leave, better job security not just for salarymen, reduced overtime hours? I also think a more open society would help. My impression of Japan is that unless you have money for jukus and expensive schools and universities your child is condemned to a life of deep bowing and insignificance. The children of poor people will be poor and no degree of skill will change this since skill is hardly recognised.

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f'n'c -

I agree, which is why I said I didn't think it would go down too well. It's all in the naming and the way you look at it, I suppose. The child allowance is a kind of childlessness tax, since people without children don't get it; but because it's seen as something parents get, rather than something childless people are deprived of, it's considered OK. A bit like the married man's tax allowance is a singles tax by another name.

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Does the birthrate need to be increased? Isn't an average of 8,000 people per/km2 in Tokyo enough? Think of the lives that will be saved by not bringing more children into the constantly downgrading society.

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A clear "work/life balance" is needed. Once a balance is achieved, many of the social problems will start to be rectified. The government needs to step in to set labour policies to get the ball rolling.

S

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I agree with Spidey. I'd put work/life balance, which is totally out of whack, as the number one priority. Money as a carrot only goes so far. To do that, labour standards need to be changed, or at least enforced, with stiff penalties for companies that exploit employees.

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Fair dinkum - yes, or the demographic alternative is killing off more older people before they become dependent on taxpayers to support them. That's the Japanese point of view, as the alternative is letting lots of nasty foreigners into the country to supplement the shrinking pool of new workers, and they seem totally unprepared to do that on any large scale basis

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I think the pornographic movies need to stop censoring the vagina.

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i'll take a wild stab at it and say 'more sex'

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Lose the keitais...

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Why Japan needs to think about complicated strategy to increase population?Just destroy all condoms!!! After 10 years another article will appear on JT:how to reduce Japanese population in Japan?the Answer:bring back all condoms or migrate. There.

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I say lower the cost of housing and susidize or help with schooling. It appears to me that those two are the most expensive in Japan.

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I would be happy to provide a 23-hour-a-day service for those who are going through a dry spell. No names, no nonsense and no worries!

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Spidey is right on one part. The other is that the economy needs to be stable as well. Having dad on 60 hour weeks for his whole adult life just to live an average life in Japan is not conducive to happy families.

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Most companies offer excellent maternity leave plans. My wife is right now on a one year leave where she receives a percentage of her normal salary, and her insurance is paid by the company for one year. I am always amazed at the comments I read here about Japans welfare and family aid system being inadequate. To the contrary, they have an exemplary system sans something similar to America guaranteeing medical care at the emergency room for those that fall thru the cracks. Of course there are lacks, but no more than any other industrial country.

The single largest barrier to people considering continuing a pregnancy to term in Japan is financial. Period. We have the highest cost of living on the planet and insurance does not cover any prenatal nor pregnancy related treatment or procedures. A payment of aprox. 3000 dollars is available upon live birth from the local government and babies receive practically free medical care and day care is provided on a sliding scale affordably.

However, being as the vast majority of pregnancies are in new and young couples, having to bear the entire cost of prenatal and birth costs in addition to loosing an income and the additional expenses that bringing a baby into the world mean that receiving a lump sum payment of aprox. 1/3 their expenses is not very attractive. Not to mention the risks that costs could be much higher if there are any complications.

Being as the cost of living wont change anytime soon, the simplest way to increase the birthrate is to include maternity related health care in insurance benefits. Even at a partial rate it would ease enough pressure to dramatically increase the birthrate. Any additional incentives available upon live birth will also have very little effect.

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With the move to small nuclear families in Japan, there are no longer grandmas & grandpas IN the house to help take care of the kid(s). Also, Japan doesn't have the tradition of having neighborhood kids or acquaintances babysit kid(s). This is HUGE.

If my wife and I were to have another kid, it'll be another five years of one of us always having to be around to take care of him/her.

This means my wife having to quit her job (NO maternity leave/pay), thus becoming one income family again. It's very difficult to get by (no Prada/LV bags in our house), just basic necessities.

If we both want to work, then that means nursery school, but once again, that's more money spent. Just to add, men in Japan help very little in raising kids, so women know the hardships they'll face if they have another kid.

There isn't a lot of financial help/paternity leave/daycare center availability being set up by the government either.

This ALL adds up to less kids.

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The single largest barrier to people considering continuing a pregnancy to term in Japan is financial. Period. We have the highest cost of living on the planet...

Be careful about using the word "we" - you need a Japanese passport for that. "Japanese and their guest residents" would be more appropriate.

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This talk about money... When my wife and I decided to have children, money wasn't high on the list; the fact that the kids wouldn't be 'pure' Japanese and how their schoolmates would dealing with them and how the school system would deal with them were higher discussion topics, as were availability of medical professionals.

If people are not having children because of the costs, then perhaps it's best they don't have children. Money is the least of the worries; education, bringing them up, health, safety, dealing with bullying (if any), and making sure the offspring see the world as theirs, not just Japan.

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1: Free maternity related medical costs including child birth and post birth expenses.

2: Free medical costs for child up to 10 Years.

3: Day care facilities with longer operating hours.

4: Banning mangas with abnormal relationships and sex life. Or at least put warnings.

5: Reduce making of Porns, make more erotica.

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Too much cell phone radiation = reduced sperm cell production

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No. Japan should not become a nation of breeders like the U.S. and other, closer neighbors. Japan shouldn't worry about a falling birthrate, and instead focus on quality over quantity: look at getting the most out of a diminishing population through efficiency programs, advanced medical research into healthy lifespan extension, and high-quality, science-based education of the nation's youth.

The world has more than enough people as it is.

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It is amazing how many comments here are made by men who clearly doesnt have a clue on how it is to have a child from a female perspective. Being a woman (and foreigner) and a single parent in Japan I would say that there is one thing that is very evident: the japanese society doesnt want to have more children.

For example: you can not be a single parent. Its not accepted and economically its not possible. Japanese girls want to have a career but if they marry they end up as unpaid housewifes. Many choose not to have a boyfriend because they want to study and work- not to be slaves in the kitchen! And again...as a woman you can not (economically or sociologically) have a child by yourselves. So to have children you HAVE to be married.

I think it is so tragic that the japanese society is maybe 40 years or more behind in gender equality compared with some countries in Europe. And nobody is doing anything to change that situation. Actually they are working in the other direction! Japan is a male-based society and as I see it, it will take many generations before a japanese man would stay at home taking care of the children or even be prepared to make a meal by themselves (?). Of course there are exceptions but society doesnt really want men to stay at home, do they? The only way to change things is too improve gender equality so japanese women doesnt have to choose to have boyfriend/family/be housewife or to have a career.

Some statistics if you dont belive me: 50% of all japenese women are unmarried when they turn 30. 97% of all children are borne within the marriage. Only 13% of all children under 3 years of age attend preschool/kindergarden. (Thats approximately how many that can both work and have children!!!) Only 55% of the working ability force of woman do actually work, and if so, often only part-time. (statistics from a swedish paper)

Typically the problem is put like this: "Todays japanese men (hardworking) wants to marry yesterdays woman (housewifes). Todays japanese woman (hardworking, indepentent) wants to marry the man of tomorrow (with focus on gender equality and higher quality of life)."

Sorry for being somewhat fragmented and for my bad english: my daughter is sick today and I try to work at home while taking care of her at the same time.

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The simple solution: Japanese women. Quit pampering your little boys and make men out of them.

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hokkaidokarin, you are correct that most single mothers in Japan have a very difficult life, and it is very sad to see.

But...

You are completely wrong about your interpretation of Japanese society and you need to look beyond your (possibly Western) prejudices. Having children is not the only goal in life for people these days, and Japanese females are well ahead of their Western counterparts in this respect. If you think breeding is the only path to a fullfiling life, then you are still living in the 50's or have succumbed to some primitive religious meme.

Women here choose not to be married and/or not to have children because they don't want to be married and they don't want children. They enjoy their life as it is, and your implication that there is something missing in their life if they stay childless is a rather outdated attitude.

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what changes ARENT needed????

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what changes ARENT needed????

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MichaelJP...let's assume for a moment your rant, including bolding for emphasis, is correct. Then, if so, you should be able to answer one simple question: If Japanese females are "well ahead of their Western counterparts" with respect to shedding the concept of having to have children to be fulfilled -- Then: What have they found to replace that in their lives? It certainly is not a fulfilling job/a career, since we know Japan is decades behind in this regard. So, what is it? Are you saying that having dinner with their other non-married/childless friends or their constant shopping for that next designer item is more fulfilling than raising a child? I agree with your premise. The women here are choosing to not have children -- but in pursuit of what? And how does that benefit Japan in the long-run?

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Are you saying that having dinner with their other non-married/childless friends or their constant shopping for that next designer item is more fulfilling than raising a child? The women here are choosing to not have children -- but in pursuit of what? And how does that benefit Japan in the long-run?

They're good for the economy!

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Imprison the owner and workers of Condomania in Omotesando and turn the store into a free daycare.

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The costs of not having more children are so high that Japan cannot afford not to pay a bit more to at least get the birth rate back up.

A lot of the reasons given above, other than financial ones, are terribly modern - none that stopped my in-laws growing up in families of 6 and 7 children in the '50s.

However, costs are an enormous impediment in an already-expensive society. The state should bear the costs of birth and provide continual financial support to the age of 18 so that the costs of a child do not put parents off - remove the stick but do not provide a carrot.

Most couples do want children and usually they want more than one. Allow them to have them.

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GoJ will never get it!!! As some of you mentioned:

Free maternity cover, delivery, post delivery, 100% medical cost cover for child up to certain age (;ets say 18) I dont understand that in japan each city has different rules. In my country is free medical (insurance covers), free education, free maternity and birth etc. Japanese Government thing another way, give baby to obachan to bring up and parents send to work or bring more foreigners to fingerprint them and make dirty job but we dont want "hafu" etc. They concentrate on different things and have years long meetings going to nowhere, but ending with next bridge to nowhere. For this they have money, but not for medicare. Im sure it takes next couple of years before GoJ finishe meeting and get something out of it.
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Lebensraum. Oops.

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Japan should not worry about falling birth rate. and we should not allow importing of other people into our country like America. We are the worlds leader it robotics. We do not want to become over populated like CHINA.

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Jerseyboy... I don't believe that anyone really thinks their life through that much, and thank you for the compliment, but most of society doesn't work towards a well defined "end" so to speak. I think that when people go childless on purpose, its in exchange for "control, freedom, and independence". No late nights bottle feeding, no soccer practice on Saturdays, no constraints hampering job-growth potential etc. A less than rosey childhood is a leading factor in not wanting to have children and I think that most people would agree that having no kids is better than raising bad ones.

This all assumes that there is an "inherent good" in having children (which is a very 1950s Western religious notion as MichaelJP points out). I want to have children in the future, but will gladly take the back seat and be the "stay at home dad" if my wife can make more money than me. If one person HAS to play the roll of money-maker and the other of home-maker than whomever makes the most money should keep their job and the other take care of the kid.

I think a lot of personal responsibility needs to be taken on the part of individuals if they want to raise children, and this obviously isn't happening.

Another solution is just hand out lots of monetary incentives to families so their quality of living doesn't decrease in an expensive society when they have children. Cost is almost 100% of the determinant of voluntary childbirth which is evident in the disparity in the birthrates of developing and modern countries. If you have nothing to spend money on except food like in a developing country, you might as well have more kids. However if you want your children to be successful in a modern society it takes a lot of time and money. So even if you are a good parent and want more kids you feel obligated to not have more than you can "take proper care of" i.e. afford.

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The women need to move more in bed.

The costs have nothing whatsoever to do with it, btw.

and why do yous keep saying that free maternity coverage is needed? the govt has a reimbursement that covers the birthing bill, and whats with the 50s opinion that children are a inherent good, its still considered a inherent good now in the 21st century.

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yes what MichaelJP said awhile ago, Japan needs to focus on quality over quantity. i would hate to see japan become like the US. dont get me wrong, the 'melting pot' we call the US is a good model for integration and understanding between people but seeing japan become un-japanese would be a shame. look at roppongi...

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Well, I don't really think they should make any changes. Japan doesn't need to become overpopulated like some countries. It would stress the economy to no end and where would you put everyone? ^.^

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Make the dead beat dads pay for thier children and enforce it, maybe they wouldn't run from thier families so quickly and actually make a go of it.

Health care and education subsidies exponential to the number of children.

Enforce the eight hour work day, and all overtime is paid, so that if you are away form your family slaving for your company( second family) your first family gets the benefit of it monetarily.

Better childcare facilities and support for mothers.

Im sure Im not the first to post any of this, expecially this next one, but theres to much to read right now, but definately, mothers need to baby thier sons less, and Fathers need to be more active in the raising of thier sons and in providing a positive role model, so that maybe the boys will grow up to be men, instead mummies boys, and not be afraid to pitch in and be there for thier spouse, even if it does require an effort when they are tired.

How about some better TV dramas with functional families in them, instead of unreal celebreties being the mainstay of media role models? Reality is that ordinary people settle down and have families, not waste tgier lives chasing stardom or fancy clothes and accessories.

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Of course that is provided that you really want to raise the birth rate. That relates to whether Japan wants toretain its economic world standing, or shrink in population and production ability. Nothing wrong with being an average country with a few less people if you are better for it, in the long haul.

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Clearly could write a novel about that question!!! lol

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You know this topic is starting to piss me off. I wish people would stop freaking out about population decline and low birth rate. As far as I can see, Japan needs to seriously shrink its population and come up with ways to prevent the population from migrating to Tokyo or Osaka. Also, based on all the pregnant women waddling around and their spoiled little brats running amok everywhere, the birthrate doesn't seem to be a serious problem. 少子化大歓迎!

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greensatin: money is the only reason too keep the population level up. Otherwise, less people is a good thing. People have less babies because they want to, and because we dont need them perhaps. Maybe the whole world needs to make less babies, focus on quality rather than quantity.

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"Japan should not worry about falling birth rate. and we should not allow importing of other people into our country like America. We are the worlds leader it robotics. We do not want to become over populated like CHINA." -13akio13

Not only do your comment sound ignorant, but discriminating, as well! If not for OUR (USA's) western influence on Japan's society you guys wouldn't be the "world's leader in robotics". And with China's vast lands it's okay for them to have the amount of people there. If anything Japan should be worrying about their own over population (and don't blame the 'gaijin's") especially considering how tiny your little island is.

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