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In Japan, a third of today's 18-year-old women may not have children: study

70 Comments
By Satoshi Sugiyama

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Women were made to have children. This is insane.

-6 ( +25 / -31 )

Women were made to have children. This is insane.

It's environment that made them the opposite, no work life balance environment, low wages, rising price, why any policy maker would expect Japan people want more and more children?

-5 ( +24 / -29 )

Many young men are what they call Soy Boys or Girly Men according to Arnie. They lack testosterone, it’s fallen by 50% since the 70’s you see. It down almost entirely by the modern process food diet and possibly other factors such as packaging used for these products.

Also the government huge little assistance to young couples that wish to have a child, it’s very expensive in Japan and school uniform and equipment can cost a fortune. Things need to change to being up the birth rate.

A good idea would be for mothers with a partner below a certain income been given a paid amount to raise the child until it goes to school.

-9 ( +16 / -25 )

"The challenge is that no single cause can be identified for the declining birthrate," pontificates the 'expert'.

But there actually is a single cause - the late but lovely awareness on the part of Japan's youth that the old ways of hundreds of years of subjugation by their elders has no real purpose. They're developing their own sensibilities and individuality. And the old farts can't understand that.

-4 ( +14 / -18 )

*Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in June promised to tackle the population crisis with "unprecedented" measures including bigger payouts for families with three or more children.*

Ever meet anyone claiming that a child care allowance encouraged them to have a child? Me neither.

17 ( +23 / -6 )

Asia

Yes, there are many cases in some Western nations where payouts are more generous, you see.

-14 ( +8 / -22 )

Citation?

falseflagsteve

They lack testosterone, it’s fallen by 50% since the 70’s you see.

11 ( +17 / -6 )

Japan will be a better place in the future as a result.

-19 ( +8 / -27 )

Citation?

Google it. I don't always agree with FFS, but when I do, he's dropping a truth bomb about declining rates of testosterone in men.

-6 ( +9 / -15 )

Iraiara

Despite your witty comebacks at me you just proved my point without knowing it, funny old world isn’t it?

Your talking about a 17% decrease over a 17 year period and the early-mid up’s were 50 years ago, erm!!!

There is no data I have ever made up, I research everything.

Source please as you lot always say or it’s just talk. I don’t make this stuff up.

-13 ( +6 / -19 )

Your own citation states "According to research, men’s testosterone levels have dropped at least 20% in the last 20 years with more and more younger men suffering the effects of low testosterone." Still waiting for the 50% citation.

Danish study (Rigshospitalet Clinic for Growth and Reproduction) showed a 14% drop in men born in the 1960s compared to men born in the 1920s.

falseflagsteve:

Here’s one though from the last decades which back up everything I state almost daily n this site regarding excercise and nutrition

https://myparla.com/health-hub/fertility/decreasing-testosterone-levels/

10 ( +14 / -4 )

Japan's population of 126.15 million in 2020 is projected to fall to 87 million by 2070, IPSS said.

I think that's overly optimistic. It's going to fall MUCH faster than that

-10 ( +11 / -21 )

TrevorPeaceToday  06:39 am JST

"The challenge is that no single cause can be identified for the declining birthrate," pontificates the 'expert'.

But there actually is a single cause - the late but lovely awareness on the part of Japan's youth that the old ways of hundreds of years of subjugation by their elders has no real purpose. They're developing their own sensibilities and individuality. And the old farts can't understand that.

So today's youth is the first to tell their elders to take a hike? Why do I think this isn't true?

3 ( +9 / -6 )

FFS, Great that you haven't changed. I have nothing to apologise for. I asked you for a citation and you provided one that didn't back up your claim. Boom.

I provided one that indicates the general decline in testosterone is not a new trend. That study indicates a decline from 1920 to 1960 and other studies indicate further declines since then, as well as the expected effects due to decreases in testosterone levels, such as lower sperm counts and decreases in musculoskeletal strength.

11 ( +14 / -3 )

The problem is Taro.

Taro continues to slave away at his job, vote the same way, live the same way, and continue to support the hierarchy complex he was conditioned to believe in from childhood. Taro is too loyal. Taro is not questioning authority enough. Taro works for the same people even though his overseas equivalents are making three times him. Taro doesn't have enough time outside of being a productive member of society to court women.

Taro is a beta and Taro is also the main problem with Japanese society. If the Taros threw their hands up in the air and just gave up, the system would grind to a half, and the people in charge would have to make concessions instead of expecting borderline slave labor.

It's sad to admit but Japanese men have totally failed Japanese women. Why do you think there are so many "gaijin hunters"?

-1 ( +15 / -16 )

As people have fewer children, they are able to spend more on each child than families have in the past. That drives up the average cost of raising a child for the broader population, putting some people off from having children, he said.

The logic here is flawed. Having more children won't bring down the aggregate cost of raising them. Which is more of a concern for each individual family.

That's my problem with government, they just look at statistics and assume stuff!

15 ( +15 / -0 )

Free Childcare, Free Health care, Free Education, Plus financial support . Just look at what many Scandinavian nations are doing for their own people prosperity and happiness.

5 ( +13 / -8 )

"The challenge is that no single cause can be identified for the declining birthrate," Iwasawa said.

They can start with the scammy, borderline robbery children school bag that cost upwards of 70,000 yen and must be replaced every few years just for a change in color!

Not enough so called "experts" are talking about this.

18 ( +18 / -0 )

We need to start reconsidering how society is structured. This problem is never going to be solved in time. Mass immigration is a possibility, but Japanese society would have to be restructured so radicaly, that I dont think the oyajis could handle it. Japan could invest heavily in robotics and AI as an alternative, but I dont think they have the engineering talent to pull off such radical innovation.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Maybe just viewing women as baby making machines isa huge art of the problem. Women are more than just their fertility.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

The drop in testosterone could also be genetic drift as weaker men are able to survive doing desk work.

-7 ( +4 / -11 )

Just me but I think if more people could get out of big cities and move to small towns where life is slower and more relaxed, where you know your neighbors and socialize more, you would have more marriages and more kids. Japan has an abundance of small towns with declining populations (the US too) and modern technology makes it very possible to have your workforce widely distributed instead of crammed into some high rise in a big city. Big city life anywhere, not just Japan but all around the world, just is not conducive to relaxing and having kids. Kids need room to play and high rise living doesn't lend itself to it.

The work culture needs to change too. High wage earners are expected to work 11-12 hours a day 6 days a week while too many low wage jobs have irregular hours. Some weeks you work a lot, other weeks there is little or no work. People on both ends of the wage scale need some stability and predictability in their lives and enough energy after work for a little whoopie with their spouse.

Child subsidies are not going to solve these problems.

14 ( +14 / -0 )

Just look at what many Scandinavian nations are doing for their own people prosperity and happiness.

But it's not working. The total fertility rates of the Nordic countries are declining much like Japan's.

https://read.dukeupress.edu/demography/article/58/4/1373/174063/Not-Just-Later-but-Fewer-Novel-Trends-in-Cohort

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Marrying in one's late-30s often results in just one child, if any, Iwasawa said.

Now why is this the case? Looks like they need to do some interviewing to find out what the cause is here. Having children in one's thirties in countries like the Scandinavian's doesn't necessarily result in only having one child.

In 2021, the average age of women at their first birth was 28.6 years, whereas at was just below or slightly over 30 years in all other Nordic countries. That year, Norway and Sweden had the highest average age with 30.1 years.

Now there isn't going to be a single cause for this, but to name a few based on what I have observed here:

Salary, those who started working for their company straight out of college have very low income and by the time most get into their thirties, they only see an incremental increase in their salaries despite being promoted. Those who seek to better their careers splurge more money on studying and earning qualifications, adding on to their already high student loans. This will payback in time, but they are temporarily depleted and the salary will not immediately jump enough for them right after earning their qualification.

Many are also reluctant in getting themselves in debt and taking risks for a positive future. The debt = bad is still a part of the teaching here, and therefore many are not aware that there are bad debts and good debts. But after coming here, I understand this philosophy and sort of support this behavior as it is always better to be safe than sorry. But this could also explain why many would rather not take the risk of having two kids when they can barely pay for one.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

This article reminded me of the discussion we all had here with some people saying that life is better and richer without kids.

1 THIRD of all woman in Japan. This is insane. Not talking about the pension-wise issues.... how are these million of people will going to live a whole life without joy or hope?

eat→shop→travel→rinse→repeat

There were a few instances when I went to a cozy cafe somewhere with my wife and sleeping baby and we didnt feel very welcome, like owners/life staring at us the whole time.

When I look around, every single seat was occupied by a young, beautiful japanese woman, all by herself, having her lonely tea & cake in a saturday evening. Place was cozy but they all looked kinda depressed. The cafe was meant for these people and we were kind of a threat to them as a happy young family.

1 ( +15 / -14 )

It's the economy, stupid!

5 ( +6 / -1 )

We are a failed species. Too smart for our own good.

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

The logic here is flawed. Having more children won't bring down the aggregate cost of raising them. Which is more of a concern for each individual family.

Exactly. And what's more everyone in Japan is missing the point when it comes to programs to boost childbirth.

Offering money to people to have children is useless because it only applies to people who are married or have already had a child.

Young single workers aren't able to benefit from this stipend. To have a child you have to have a large apartment or a house, to have a large apartment or a house you generally want to be married, to be married you have to buy a ring, before you buy a ring you have to date. Everything leading up to having a baby is very expensive, and young workers are having their money sucked up before they even have a chance to take the first step towards starting a family. How does Japan expect young workers to get married when their money is being sucked up and redistributed to the elderly or couples that are already married?

This is the biggest reason why the birthrate is falling.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Maybe just viewing women as baby making machines isa huge art of the problem. Women are more than just their fertility.

I mean.. women are sovereign individuals that can make their own choices... but on the other hand they are the only ones who can have children.. so...?

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Correct me if I'm wrong but I believe women were made to do whatever the hell they want lol. All this weird talk about testosterone and 'weak men' is also incredibly pointless, doubt any of these wannabe alphas can run a full mile without fainting. Materialistic conditions are terrible and everyone unable to start a family constantly cites that as the reason stopping them. Plus, how is it even sustainable to keep populations growing indefinitely? We can hardly care for the people already here.

How is the talk about weak men and testosterone pointless? Low testosterone in men usually means lower sex drive and less interest in women. If men aren't interested in women, then they aren't going to get married and have kids. It is a genuine concern bro.

-4 ( +6 / -10 )

This article reminded me of the discussion we all had here with some people saying that life is better and richer without kids.

1 THIRD of all woman in Japan. This is insane. Not talking about the pension-wise issues.... how are these million of people will going to live a whole life without joy or hope?

eat→shop→travel→rinse→repeat

There were a few instances when I went to a cozy cafe somewhere with my wife and sleeping baby and we didnt feel very welcome, like owners/life staring at us the whole time.

When I look around, every single seat was occupied by a young, beautiful japanese woman, all by herself, having her lonely tea & cake in a saturday evening. Place was cozy but they all looked kinda depressed. The cafe was meant for these people and we were kind of a threat to them as a happy young family.

I think that people are starting to realize that a single life with a decent standard of living is less depressing than a life with kids living in borderline poverty.

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

Having children is not for everyone, but is more likely to produce feelings of fulfillment, self-realization, and validation than

eat→shop→travel→rinse→repeat

Almost all commercial activities leave you coming back for more gratification.

Many Japanese people struggle to make friends as adults beyond the people they knew at high school or university. Whether you have kids or not, it is very important to form meaningful relationships with others that go beyond a shared hobby. It is a keystone to mental health.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Many Japanese people struggle to make friends as adults beyond the people they knew at high school or university.

That's not a specifically Japanese trait, it's quite common world-wide.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Instead of focusing on child expectations the shift should be focused on how love, companionship and sharing your life with someone truly special to you is the ultimate path to happiness, which actually true and doesn’t needed to be cooked up or manufactured. Right now the ‘raising children for the nation’ message is just an added pressure and burden, very mendokusai for this generation.

Shift the message guys, and the kids MAY come, cause right now the politicians are actually making things worse. Yeah I know, surprise, suprise!

There’s a lot of lost and lonely souls here in sushiland, let’s make a society that makes connection the key to functionality! Real human connection through healthy relationships. Get an army of relationship psychologist in as advisors, hey , we may even get better leaders from it! Woh!

5 ( +7 / -2 )

That's not a specifically Japanese trait, it's quite common world-wide.

That's true, unfortunately, and my mistake. As one example, this book was written in the US twenty years ago.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bowling_Alone

2 ( +2 / -0 )

56% of single women with children live below the poverty line in Japan.

That's for divorcees too.

You will then be discriminated further on access to schooling and many other things.

Japan is hostile to women in general.

Having a child for a woman here means losing your freedom in most cases.

Not surprisingly a lot of younger women reject this.

Nothing to do with testosterone levels.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

I think that people are starting to realize that a single life with a decent standard of living is less depressing than a life with kids living in borderline poverty.

A decent standard of living, good restaurants, a decent car, international trips 2x an year all to enjoy alone or with your partner for many years to come, a dream come true!

Never mind. "You'll only understand when you become a parent" is one of the cliches I used to hate.

Having children is not for everyone, but is more likely to produce feelings of fulfillment, self-realization, and validation than

And infinitely much more. The feeling you get when your little baby looks you in the eye for half an hour while you feed him, or your toddler leaving whatever his doing to rush to the door while shouting papa to give you a very soft hug and a kiss on the cheek whenever you come home is something childless people would never undestand.

One third of all women.. Good Lord

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

It’s depressing that I as an old guy get hit on by women in their twenties.

I can only think that since I am financially solvent that this is what the young materialistic young ladies are looking for…

-4 ( +11 / -15 )

When high virtues is wearing high brand clothing, having latest iphone and showing off, and while on ghe contrary showing family only as painful school, financial and time requirements, many societies and not only Japan are disintegrating.

So much valuable happiness out of a loving family !

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

This is, I repeat here once again, not Japan's situation alone.

For example, in the US, a country where "immigration" is often touted as being the "answer" to a declining population (it isn't, but still...), fully 30% of "households" consist of...a single person. Alone. Compare that to 1940, where the number was just 8%.

https://edition.cnn.com/2023/07/12/opinions/single-people-increase-america-filipovic/index.html

The CNN editorial I got this info from largely touts this as "an achievement" since women now have careers and blah blah blah, you know the feminist drill (but notice, too, the author doing all this lauding of singles just happens to be happily married)...however the results are the same. What sounded good in your 20s is hard to cope with for most once they "miss" your window for chances of a happy marriage or reproduction. For most "eternal singles" it wasn't planned...it just happens...

Anyway, it's not the "duty" of any one woman or man to have babies to "save" their nation. That's just stupid. One woman could have four kids...and with 30% of the population barren (plus 30% of men also not reproducing) you'd still be losing population! Did "you" fail society? lol. Hardly...

Plus, I'm appalled by people who go ahead and have kids they don't want, because it's "what's done", and then treat them in ways that reveal to the kids that they're a burden...better to not bring those destined to be future emotional wrecks into existence then, no?

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Adapting to the stress of desk work implies a response to selection. But, not sure whether there is a negative genetic correlation between fecundity and tolerance to surviving desk work.

Redemption

The drop in testosterone could also be genetic drift as weaker men are able to survive doing desk work.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Of course not! The government want women to work, they want them to have high paying jobs, careers, they want them to go to uni, the work. Now the government want them to have kids, maybe give up their jobs, effectively becoming poorer. Certainly financially harder, and raise the kids and look after the home all the while the government want them to work and pay more tax to reduce the government debt. Not to mention the lie of women can have it all, great careers, great salary and sill pop out two or three kids. Some women who are high flying earners maybe, but Ms average k car driver. Probably not. Government can’t have its cake and eat it. But they keep telling men and women we can. As a parent I realized we can’t.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

It's pretty much already been said, but a (poor) stipend for parents of three or more children misses out on the fact that many people cannot even afford to have the first child, let alone make it to three and finally get some financial help in raising them! That policy sounds like it's purely for show, because it's very clearly not going to do anything to help this situation.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

understandable... it's not worth it.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Do the majority of you re the downvotes I received really believe that it’s a good thing for young women to chase men the age of their fathers and above?

I am extremely shocked!

-5 ( +6 / -11 )

It’s depressing that I as an old guy get hit on by women in their twenties.

Own it! Silver fox.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

Starting a family is a personal choice, and if this possible third of women choose not to, so be it. Birth-rates are falling all across the world as attitudes change.

The only "problem" as I see it is if people want to start a family but can't due to socioeconomic factors. In that case, fixing these socioeconomic factors (not the lack of kids per se) is a problem that the government should solve. It is also what the government ought to be doing in any case, or else it's not doing its job properly. This is, I think, where Japan falls down: the government needs to fix the low wages, and huge numbers of people in insecure jobs. Only then will people feel comfortable enough to start families.

If people are happy in a socioeconomic sense, and they want to start a family, the birth rate will then reach its "proper" level. Whether this is "high enough" or not for the government's revenue/GDP targets is a moot point: if all the people that want kids can afford to have them, the government has done its job.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

This is great news, in an already grossly over -populated country.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

JeffLee

Japan will be a better place in the future as a result.

Japan will cease to exist as a result, if this continues. I do not know how you call that a "better place".

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Chabbawanga

We need to start reconsidering how society is structured. This problem is never going to be solved in time. Mass immigration is a possibility, but Japanese society would have to be restructured so radicaly,

It would definitely radically change (just look at Western Europe), and in addition mass immigration is not a "solution" by definition, as the immigrants are not babies but rather adults, so only adding to the imbalance in the population tree. Another common misperception that seems never addressed.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

As more and more male or femal migrants and immigrants come to Japan, even on 3 to 5 year visas, plenty will meet the local ladies or men and often pregnancies will be the end result.

This will inject a diffetent set of mindsets and cultures towards family and child rearing and their offspring will tale with them some of these values as they change the Japanese demograpic over time.

Many migrants and immigrants coming in value families highly over most all else and are happy to work hard and sacrifice trinkets and holidays to pay for them and create a life here.

The new Japan will have many languages and further it's connectivity to the outside world.

This will undoubtedly change Japan and her make up, food, language, history and culture over the long term.

The New Normal Japan.

Whether that's a good or bad thing will be a matter of perspectives.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Who can blame them? Any child born in Japan today is born with more than ¥9,000,000 in debt, have to pay for schooling even from nursery school (elementary and junior high through taxes and school lunch, etc., if public), inflation at 4% means they won't be able to buy anything in the future, the government more intent on arming itself to defend piles of rocks than helping to fund an actual future through education subsidies or family credits (which they took away long ago).

0 ( +5 / -5 )

When I look around, every single seat was occupied by a young, beautiful japanese woman, all by herself, having her lonely tea & cake in a saturday evening.

That's what they want. I've never believed the birth rate decline was an issue to do with insufficient income. Poor people tend to have tons of kids.

It's just that there are so many options now and it's so easy to just not have kids. Especially for men who are capable of having kids in later life if they really want to do so.

Don't know if there's a solution to this to be honest asides from making everyone's lives sufficiently bad or boring enough that having kids doesn't seem like that big of a deal by comparison.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

finally rich

And infinitely much more. The feeling you get when your little baby looks you in the eye for half an hour while you feed him, or your toddler leaving whatever his doing to rush to the door while shouting papa to give you a very soft hug and a kiss on the cheek whenever you come home is something childless people would never undestand.

...and the baby gets to grow up, and you get to see the incredible development into an adult human, and if everything is done right you have a friend til you die.

Compare that to the young couples these days (plenty in my neighbourhood) who opt for a toy poodle instead. Yep, the poodle is cute, but they will live to see it grow old and die.... how sad,

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Free Childcare, Free Health care, Free Education, Plus financial support . Just look at what many Scandinavian nations are doing for their own people prosperity and happiness.

Mate, nothing's free. People in those Scandinavian countries are taxed to the eyeballs to pay for it all, and many are getting tired of it. Not to mention much of Norway's "free" stuff comes from their oil royalties - something that must spark pangs of guilt among all the greenies who enjoy the comforts it brings on those long, cold and lonely winter nights...right? Most of the population growth in that region is coming from the Middle-Eastern immigrants, many of whom enjoy the comforts of the social system without contributing to it or wanting to assimilate. Not all, but a very sizeable proportion.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

If blokes stopped working 24/7 and spent time at home with there spouses, things might just change!

4 ( +5 / -1 )

"The challenge is that no single cause can be identified for the declining birthrate," Iwasawa said.

Then, wouldn't it be really useful and nice to make a profound research to identify those causes in the end?

How can any problem be solved without HONESTLY identifying the reasons and addressing them?

Making headlines with this issue without even giving honest reasons leads to nothing except some more of fearmongering, social antagonism and psychological pressure.

Some key words are given though, like money, youth, lifestyle, 'to hint' (or rather shift all the 'blame') into direction of secondary reasons why many Japanese women wont have kids in the future but they didn't look deeper in my humble opinion. They didn't honestly faced and named real fundamental causes. Until then, every single article about falling birthrate will have no sense.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@Redemption

I am not one to blow my own horn…

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The problem is people just don't communicate at all, we have become loners!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

kurisupisu

It’s depressing that I as an old guy get hit on by women in their twenties.

Yeah, that must suck.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Mate, nothing's free. People in those Scandinavian countries are taxed to the eyeballs to pay for it all, and many are getting tired of it.

I don't think so. Sounds like hopeful rhetoric. Here in Canada, people want the system improved, but no one is saying 'lets get rid of it'. Well, I shouldn't say no one, I'm sure there is a small contingency of people on the edges of society (Daves, the town idiots that people ignore in real life), who want to scrap it. But if one defines normalcy by the fringes, it only defines that one as having low-intellectual capacity.

On an anecdotal level, I personally was thankful - my father's medical costs would have bankrupted him (and therefore likely me) in another country. We literally didn't have to pay anything for him.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The main problem is that the time zone in Japan is wrong. It’s getting dark too early and people can’t enjoy sunsets together after work. Okinawa is more-less fine in that sense hence better fertility.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

It doesn’t matter how much money they throw at it, even if they introduce radical changes across the board ( not going to happen), the most they will do is slow the decline slightly. No way will they reverse it. Best thing to do is to start planning how to cope with the declining and aging population. The whole civilized world is faced with the same problem - Japan could be among those leading the way.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Brian Wheway

If blokes stopped working 24/7 and spent time at home with there spouses, things might just change!

Woah now, let's not get too crazy.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Baradzed

The main problem is that the time zone in Japan is wrong. It’s getting dark too early and people can’t enjoy sunsets together after work. Okinawa is more-less fine in that sense hence better fertility.

Do you have a reference showing that birth rate in Okinawa is different from that in Honshu? Not holding my breath.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

finally rich

When I look around, every single seat was occupied by a young, beautiful japanese woman, all by herself, having her lonely tea & cake in a saturday evening. Place was cozy but they all looked kinda depressed. The cafe was meant for these people and we were kind of a threat to them as a happy young family.

Strange, I never had such an experience here. To the contrary, my experience is if going out with a baby or toddler I would get swarmed by young women with lots of "kawaii" comments. Maybe a bit of confirmation bias?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Do you have a reference showing that birth rate in Okinawa is different from that in Honshu? Not holding my breath.

Breathe easy.

Figures for 2019, total fertility rate:

Tokyo 1.15 (National low)

Okinawa 1.82 (National high)

The top 9 prefectures are all on the western side of Honshu, or further west.

The bottom 9 include Hokkaido and the urban conglomerations of Kanto and Kansai.

https://www.mhlw.go.jp/english/database/db-hw/FY2021/dl/live_births04.pdf

0 ( +0 / -0 )

cleo:

Thanks! Interesting statistic, learned something new. Okinawa is almost at replacement level, wow.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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