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Fewer than 900,000 new Japanese babies this year for first time on record

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Wow, it just fell under a million a couple years ago, now its already under 900,000? That don’t look good.

14 ( +16 / -2 )

Thinking of the people I know of child-bearing age, the government has a very long way to go to make it anything like an attractive prospect for them. They've all got good careers and modern technological luxuries to bother. And there's no guarantee that their kids would look after them when they get old.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

There were 512,000 more deaths than births this year, the first time the figure has surpassed 500,000, with 864,000 babies born. Last year, 918,400 babies were born.

Didn't a population expert in Japan say when the population decline starts picking up speed the Japanese population will drop to the 80-90million mark quite quickly.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Congratulations to all the parents. It's an amazing experience to have children and tons of fun raising them, besides the hard work. The more the merrier.

9 ( +17 / -8 )

And then you have China who has a limit on 1 child per couple. Very interesting. I am 52 and still never married so I totally relate to not having kids.

-16 ( +6 / -22 )

And then you have China who has a limit on 1 child per couple.

That rule has been lifted.

24 ( +26 / -2 )

Declining birthrate, aging population, failed pension and welfare system, 25% of children living in poverty, salaries stalled and decreasing, 60% of the workforce on short-term or part-tine contracts, increased taxes, middle class disappearing, commodity prices increasing, public debt increasing........ need I go on? Japan is in big trouble.

21 ( +27 / -6 )

driven by a fewer women aged 25 to 39, said a ministry official in charge of compiling the data

I don't think that's the reason. While Japan is one of the rare countries that have more men than women, the ration is only 1.05:1 for men to women. That isn't what's driving the birth decline.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Well, we've been told to expect this for many years, and is a global trend. The question is what is the best way to handle the challenge to fiscal and macroeconomic policies. Since it is doubtful immigration and the youth will increase, removing the restriction that people have to retire at 65 (and continue to earn money and pay taxes) will ease the burden as will moving to more open and digital transformation of the government and the paperwork. Also volunteer activities such as such as childcare, preparing meals, cleaning, and helping the elderly or disabled should be recognized and paid adequately.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

While Japan is one of the rare countries that have more men than women the ration is only 1.05:1 for men to women.

and that is at birth, which is normal. When you look at the other age brackets, there are more women than men.

2 ( +8 / -6 )

Japan is in big trouble.

Yes, the demographics look bad. But at least, the government is not following the EU style "replacement migration", replacing a declining native population with 3rd world immigrtation into the already stretched welfare system. So I say in comparison Japan looks pretty good.

-11 ( +11 / -22 )

I have been harping on about this for decades, its a major problem in PLAIN sight for at least 40-50years & to this day NOTHING is being done, in fact quite  the opposite!!

Sadly we are witnessing the death of a country in Japan, the govt has continued to kick the can down the road, mumbling a few meaningless & often totally stupid things over the years & they are set on autopilot!

The birthrate has slowly dropped over time, I have predicted for ages it will reach a tipping point & then drop like a stone, we may well be at that point now or close to it.

I get NO joy in these predictions! I am all for Japan having a slow, somewhat controlled decline to a lower population perhaps around 100million give or take, BUT that is clearly never going to happen.

Even if the birthrate were to skyrocket towards 2.0 per woman there are soon going to be so few young Japanese that even at that rate the population would still DECLINE.

Again no joy but I predict the birthrate will move more towards 1.0 than to 2.0

Good luck Japan! Clearly you are in dire straits!

10 ( +13 / -3 )

Blame the western philosophy where women are not women or men are not men anymore. The western ideology had no business in Japan society. Go back do your research and you will see when exactly the decline began and the many of the contributing factors. Today a guy can't even ask a woman out or pay her a compliment else the sexual harassments or accused of being a chikan.

-25 ( +13 / -38 )

Blame the western philosophy where women are not women or men are not men anymore. The western ideology had no business in Japan society. Go back do your research and you will see when exactly the decline began and the many of the contributing factors. Today a guy can't even ask a woman out or pay her a compliment else the sexual harassments or accused of being a chikan.

If there is a size-able amount of people with this mindset in Japan let alone the government, the population will continue to decline.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Rgcivillian1,

Is that the same Western philosophy at play in the gender equality index where most Western countries rank pretty high but Has Japan languishing in 121st place sandwiched between the UAE and Kuwait places where men can 4 wives?

14 ( +18 / -4 )

Thinking of the people I know of child-bearing age, the government has a very long way to go to make it anything like an attractive prospect for them. They've all got good careers and modern technological luxuries to bother. And there's no guarantee that their kids would look after them when they get old.

Frankly, if you are having children in this era with the idea that they should/will take care of you in your old age is a bad mindset. One should be lucky/blessed to be able raise children into adults who can take care of themselves. If you were a good parent you won't even need to ask your adult children for help, they will do it by themselves.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I'm surprised the Japanese gov't doesn't just pay women to have babies at this point.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

While Japan is one of the rare countries that have more men than women the ratio is only 1.05:1 for men to women.

The article meant that there are fewer women than a generation ago. There were fewer young people going through school in the 90s and 2000s. Now they are adults and also having fewer children.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Go back do your research and you will see when exactly the decline began and the many of the contributing factors.

When Japan became a rich and highly populated country.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

driven by a fewer women aged 25 to 39, said a ministry official in charge of compiling the data

I don't think that's the reason. While Japan is one of the rare countries that have more men than women, the ration is only 1.05:1 for men to women. That isn't what's driving the birth decline.

That's not their point. They are not saying there are fewer women in proportion to the number of men, but rather that there are fewer women in absolute terms, hence fewer babies because women are the ones who, er, give birth.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

The depopulation is just going to accelerate and bring more problems. It doesn't seem that bad now but even in the 7 years I've been here I've seen a huge change in thinking at least. From "Yes, the financial crisis was bad, but we're Japan so it'll be okay!" to "OMG we're so desperate we're asking gaijin to prop up society"!

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Yes, the demographics look bad. But at least, the government is not following the EU style "replacement migration", replacing a declining native population with 3rd world immigrtation into the already stretched welfare system. So I say in comparison Japan looks pretty good.

Yes. Instead Japan will choose what is behind door #2.....what is the prize Bob? Ding! Ding! Ding! Exctinction!

0 ( +5 / -5 )

The last thing a country the size of Japan needs is MORE humans. This is a good thing.

-7 ( +7 / -14 )

The last thing a country the size of Japan needs is MORE humans. This is a good thing.

Have you been to the inaka lately?

The last thing Tokyo needs is more people. The last thing the countryside needs is everyone fleeing to the cities.

20 ( +21 / -1 )

I am not a policy maker so I don't really have viable solutions, but I contributed with three kids, and both myself and my wife are working full time and paying (lots of) taxes. Living in Tokyo, both of our parents far away. We may pat ourselves on the back for contributing to the Japanese society, but to be honest it has been extremely tough.

18 ( +18 / -0 )

This trend is something that is a by product of capitalism. When countries fully develop, the pressures of modern business to maximize their profits for the owners means the workers are pressured more and more to work later, start earlier, do it for less money and this leads to a breakdown in relationships where couple's spending more time apart stop growing together. Money pressure does not help the situation. Families need more free time together and they need the pressures of life to be manageable. Stable financial conditions allow families to take regular vacations and live in comfortable homes.

Stressed out couples who are no longer as close as they were when they got married, and who struggle with money issues and not enough time together will be less inclined to have children.

It really is not that hard to work out what causes this issue. What is hard is for the government to decide population growth is more important than companies and business. Without people economies eventually crumble. The right balance needs to be maintained and that is something Japan and other nations are yet to find.

15 ( +16 / -1 )

The last thing a country the size of Japan needs is MORE humans. This is a good thing.

No Business, you like many others on this site need to learn what a population pyramid is & LOOK at Japans!

Decreasing population is NOT the problem, the problem is HOW it is decreasing, Japan is burning itself at both ends, it will NOT end well!

10 ( +12 / -2 )

The article meant that there are fewer women than a generation ago. There were fewer young people going through school in the 90s and 2000s. Now they are adults and also having fewer children.

That's true and important to point out. The "decision" by Japanese women to stop having children, if you want to put it like that, was taken forty-fifty years ago. The current generation are merely following an established trend. There is no basis to claim that something must have changed in Japan recently, e.g., a childcare crisis, to turn people against having children. A low birthrate is established in Japan and is established in pretty much all advanced countries.

This does not mean that the government is powerless, just that expectations need to be realistic.

Personally, I think the best thing to change would be gender roles, to allow men to take a bigger role in the family and women to take a bigger role in the workplace. However, a significant number of people like things the way they are, so there is no momentum for change. Lots of men are happy to leave childraising to their wives and lots of women do not want to work.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

No mention of the number of abortions. There are lots of childless couples hoping to be blessed with a child, whether their own or adopted. Sadly, many people have become extremely selfish and only self-indulgent. Me-first has morphed into Me-only.

-5 ( +6 / -11 )

Last summer I taught a group of about 8 high school girls who were on their way to study abroad.

One of the questions I asked was, what are your plans when you return to Japan? All 8 said in different ways, "I'm not coming back. I'm tired of the school system and society here, I'll be looking for a job or a school to study at abroad."

Seems like at least a portion of the youth today, are fully aware of what's going on and looking to get out, fast.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

@ Peter14

Soooooo true! But most people can handle little reality, least of all politicians who possess little self-awareness and whose careers depend on their capacity for medacity and raising financial contributions to feather their own nests. Après nous, le déluge!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I'm surprised the Japanese gov't doesn't just pay women to have babies at this point.

obviously this is open to abuse---people just popping out kids and taking the money, leading to a generation of youngsters who may not receive a proper education or contribute to society.

unless there's some form of government program where people can just drop babies off and the state raises them to the desired level or quality of person.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I would love to have children but seeing the challenge my friends are going through is making me wonder if I'll ever actually commit to having one or 2.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Instead of Olympics and concrete, have more day care facilities and cheaper.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

obviously this is open to abuse---people just popping out kids and taking the money, leading to a generation of youngsters who may not receive a proper education or contribute to society.

unless there's some form of government program where people can just drop babies off and the state raises them to the desired level or quality of person.

I obviously expect a more nuanced solution from policy makers than just handing out money. I am just stressing that the window for half measures will soon be closed and more abrasive ones(within reason)should be implemented.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Personally, I think the best thing to change would be gender roles, to allow men to take a bigger role in the family and women to take a bigger role in the workplace. However, a significant number of people like things the way they are, so there is no momentum for change. Lots of men are happy to leave childraising to their wives and lots of women do not want to work.

How does one go about legislating culture? Best example is segregation in America. Laws have been in place for almost a century that banned segregation in schools on top of forced integration, yet the problem has not been solved or even come close to be honest. Your suggestion I believe is a good one but it will take more than government intervention to address that issue.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

" to this day NOTHING is being done"

That's what I used to say, but the government has been making a few changes. My third child was born this year and will receive 15,000 yen a month for "child allowance" until graduation of junior high. He will also get 30,000 in gift certificates 3 times, at birth, entrance of elementary school, and junior high school from the local government. From October, kindergarten is basically free and so is public education for elementary, junior high, and high school. We will receive a total of 2,880,000 yen from the government for my third child, which we will save for university.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

If you want more babies, maybe you should do something to offset the increasing cost of raising them.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

http://worldpopulationreview.com/countries/total-fertility-rate/

Japan definitely has a low birthrate, but it's not the lowest. As people have said this is an issue in many developed nations, especially ones with a social welfare system like Japan has.

The issue is that the largest population of females in Japan (read: people who can actually give birth) are already in their late 40's to early 50's. Which means no babies from them. This would roughly be in line with the bubble collapse (27 years ago) which is when these people would've normally had babies. Because of this collapse there was a large population of people who could not afford to have children, which led to the prevalence of the "me-first" mentality.

Because these people didn't have children and are now starting to enter the age where younger generations take the responsibility to pay for them through taxes and welfare remittance, these younger people are starting to financially feel the strain. Meaning they likely also can't afford to have children, let alone want to.

Wait until the current 50's/ 75's to die out, and then you'll likely see the population at least slightly recover.

These two points on the population pyramid at the biggest hurdles for Japan to overcome and a better way to do that would be a better social welfare system.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

It's an amazing experience to have children and tons of fun raising them, besides the hard work. The more the merrier. you forgot it takes a considerable amount of money as well which many families dont have.

No use having more children if the end result is more low income families bleeding the welfare system.

Having children isn't an adults expectation for society its their right to choose how many they want if any at all. Its a government's job to make an environment that is child friendly and less burdensome to families, otherwise they simply wont have them

1 ( +4 / -3 )

How does one go about legislating culture? Best example is segregation in America. Laws have been in place for almost a century that banned segregation in schools on top of forced integration, yet the problem has not been solved or even come close to be honest. Your suggestion I believe is a good one but it will take more than government intervention to address that issue.

The tax and pension/healthcare systems encourage married women with husbands on shakai hoken to not earn more than 130,000 yen a month. Up to this limit they get benefits for being dependent on their husband. This line acts as a poverty trap for women. Go one yen over the line and it costs you somewhere between 350,000 and 400,000 yen a year in lost benefits.

This also has knock-on effects in that if you encourage mothers to work part-time at most, you create a large group of women who are able to arrange PTA meetings and tasks during office hours. This then holds back full-time working women who have to take time off (i.e., become undependable workers) to attend.

I guess the way to let fathers participate more in the family is to enforce labour laws regarding number of overtime hours and ability to take time off. Japan has fairly good labour laws, but companies get away with ignoring them.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

The demographics look bad because the idiots running the country, keep trying to get more taxes from the declining population, in a misguided effort to keep the economy at a point where it is sustainable for a larger population! More financial burden on people who see little to no change in salary, isn't exactly an incentive to have more kids!

7 ( +8 / -1 )

The solution is simple, stop educating women, ban them from working and tie them to the home, where ever girls start to be educated the birthrate drops.

And no I am not advocating that as a serious policy but (humorously) highlighting a fact visible across the world, this is not singular to Japan. Given the rapidly changing world of work as machines and AI progressively replace people a decline in population is advantageous, what must be addressed is how it is managed and the changes necessary to finance society as the work/tax paradigm begins to break down.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Many Japanese men and women want to change the status quo - men want to be more involved with their children and women want to do other things than being at home. The problem is mainly the way businesses are being allowed to control their employees, with tons of overwork and long working hours, usually for the man in the couple, since you almost can't run a household with two people working that way. There are also incentives to keep it this way from the government, like the tax-breaks someone mentioned further up. The people in charge seem like they don't wanna handle the real issues, Womenomics is a joke.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Well I've done my share of populating Japan and supporting them, I just can't do it alone.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

@rgcivilian1 Thanks for sharing that. We appreciate your generous contribution!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

rgcivilian1:

Blame the western philosophy where women are not women or men are not men anymore. The western ideology had no business in Japan society. Go back do your research and you will see when exactly the decline began and the many of the contributing factors. Today a guy can't even ask a woman out or pay her a compliment else the sexual harassments or accused of being a chikan.

Not my experience. I thin Western PC idiocy is still pretty absent here. The problem in Japan is rather the government pressure to have women in the workplace while de facto punishing having children by making childcare expensive. Now that would be an area Abe could spend mony on, instead of handing it to the construction companies.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

english aspyrgend:

The solution is simple, stop educating women, ban them from working and tie them to the home, where ever girls start to be educated the birthrate drops.

Well, that is why the islamic world is winning the demographics competition with the West. However, the concept is hardly compatible with modern Western values...

4 ( +5 / -1 )

...and the reasons are obvious to everyone except the policymakers...

4 ( +5 / -1 )

There are plenty of children who are in orphanages not being treated with respect, love and kindness during their stay which can be a life time. Once they become of age get tossed out with a brown paper bag of items and told good luck.

Take care of the children who are alive now and not worry about creating more. Once you take care of the ones in the orphanage and really care talk about how to make more.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

There are plenty of children who are in orphanages not being treated with respect, love and kindness during their stay which can be a life time. Once they become of age get tossed out with a brown paper bag of items and told good luck.

Take care of the children who are alive now and not worry about creating more. Once you take care of the ones in the orphanage and really care talk about how to make more.

Why not both?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Much worse is coming unfortunately.

The trend for the next 25 years cannot be changed.

And since woman status won't change drastically, Japanese demography is going down the drain.

Only rules like to have plenty of imigration can "save" economically, but not culturally.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Do the hustle

Declining birthrate, aging population, failed pension and welfare system, 25% of children living in poverty, salaries stalled and decreasing, 60% of the workforce on short-term or part-tine contracts, increased taxes, middle class disappearing, commodity prices increasing, public debt increasing........ need I go on? Japan is in big trouble.

I have yet to see a post from you that did not contain blatant factual errors.

I’ll only deal with two because the data is very clear cut.

The birth rate has been rising since 2005 although there has been some wobble at the second decimal point. In 2018 the Japanese rate was actually slightly higher than Norway, an uber affluent country with a super welfare system, and top gender equality.

The generally accepted figure for (relative) childhood poverty in Japan is on the order of 16-17%.

@GW

The birthrate has slowly dropped over time, I have predicted for ages it will reach a tipping point & then drop like a stone, we may well be at that point now or close to it

Instead of predicting, you should look at the data. The birthrate trend has been generally upward since 2005.

Want a birthrate that is dropping like a stone? Try Korea. It is now 0.98 and is said to be the lowest in the world.

The current Japanese rate is just slightly below that of Norway and Finland.

OneEyedMan

Yes. Instead Japan will choose what is behind door #2.....what is the prize Bob? Ding! Ding! Ding! Exctinction!

Nonsense. Ireland lost roughly half of its population in the 19th century. Total population today is still less now than it was in the 1840s but the Irish in Ireland did not go extinct.

@kokhakuebisu

Personally, I think the best thing to change would be gender roles, to allow men to take a bigger role in the family and women to take a bigger role in the workplace.

Not working in the Nordic countries and Finland where this has already been done.

Mind boggling that all but a few posting comments here seem to know absolutely nothing about what is happening in other countries including those most affluent and progressive countries.

A suggestion: read up on the subject before commenting.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Let's see, they keep raising the consumption tax and just about every other tax even though the place is already one of the most expensive places in the world to live. Then they wonder why people don't want to make babies and raise kids here. This place is so expensive, a lot of Japanese people are actually poor and barely make ends meet. They need to address the root of the problem - population decline, and do everything in their power to give incentive to people towards that. It's either that, or bring in more Gaijin from Asia, which is inevitably what will really happen.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

kevin:

They need to address the root of the problem - population decline, and do everything in their power to give incentive to people towards that.

I think they have taken baby steps towards that, but not enough. A good start would be the French model of free childcare, which makes having babies and easy choice.

It's either that, or bring in more Gaijin from Asia, which is inevitably what will really happen.

....in which case, you will get a populated country, but it won´t be Japan any more. Look at the cultural enrichment in Western Europe.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@Do the hustle: you just described Western Europe, except for the massive immigration that ISN'T helping despite this is how the governments want to fix those problems.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Yes, there may be some problems, but in the long-term, a declining population is what this world needs. Sorry, but over-population needs to be discussed. This planet just cannot cope with the growing demand for its resources.

And more would-be parents should think about adopting instead of adding more to this world.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Pukey2:

Yes, there may be some problems, but in the long-term, a declining population is what this world needs. Sorry, but over-population needs to be discussed.

The population explosion is happening in Africa and Middle East ONLY. Populations in the developed nations like Japan are on a steep decline, as addressed in this article.

The population of Africa is projected to QUINTUPLE to about 5 billion within this century. Even if Japan disappeared from the map, that would not make a difference in comparison.

You are very much barking up the wrong tree.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Start supporting the young Japanese in education so that they can transition Japan into a new economy.

The oyajis at the top have no idea what the future can bring...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I wish they would stop with these doom and gloom articles about low birth rates in Japan.

The population total of Japan as it stands is nearly 127 million people. Considering how small Japan is compared to a country like the United States, that is a LOT of people. More people in fact than many Asian/Southeast Asian nations combined.

The world is overpopulated and shrinking of people is more than welcome.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

@Henny Penny, you are probably making good arguments, but it's very hard to read your post when you don't use the quote button.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Just like S.Korea urging their netizens to make more babies and their comfort women history by making movies/dramas/plays for last 5,6 years,

Japan is also urging their any age of Japanese citizens to have more sex (like they used to before 80s) and have more Japanese babies by making movies/dramas about it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I a willing to help with these dire circumstances!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Henny Penny

Tell me what you know about Norway or Nordic. Been there ? Read wiki ?

Tradingeconomics source :

Fertility rate from 2005 to 2016

Japan : from 1.26 to 1.45

Norway : from 1.83 to 1.71

So ?

Do you see that there is still a gap of 0.26 persons less in Japan per generation compare to Norway ?

And did you know immigration is allowing population increase there ?

Concusion : study much better next time before telling good for bad.

Dothehustle is right.

And yes Korea will go on a worse trend but that is another story.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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