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Japan's child population hits record low after 40 years of decline

53 Comments

Japan's estimated child population hit a record low after falling for 40 straight years, government data showed Tuesday, adding to the evidence of the country's aging population.

The number of children aged 14 or younger stood at 14.93 million as of April 1, some 190,000 fewer than a year before and the lowest figure among comparable data available since 1950, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.

The ratio of children to the overall population also fell to its nadir at 11.9 percent after 47 straight years of decline.

Japan has the lowest such ratio among the 33 countries with a population of over 40 million, below South Korea's 12.2 percent and Italy's 13.3 percent, according to the U.N. Demographic Yearbook.

The ministry said the children were comprised of 7.65 million boys and 7.28 million girls.

Children aged up to 2 accounted for 2.65 million, relatively lower than other age brackets and reflecting a decline in the number of births, the ministry said.

The child population in Japan peaked in 1954 at 29.89 million. It briefly picked up around the early 1970s but has continued to fall since 1982.

© KYODO

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I'm doing my part. Are you?

9 ( +18 / -9 )

Japan's child population hits record low after 40 years of decline

Every time this thing is being reported without anything is being done in Japan.

Is it becoming easier to get place in child care? Is it becoming easier to get paternal leave?

38 ( +40 / -2 )

The government, ministry responsible have known this would happen decades ago, But as usual will respond retro-actively once the number of tax payers are unable to support their salaries and they personally face a drop in income. Then watch them scramble to make up for decades of dereliction.

18 ( +21 / -3 )

With the majority of politicians in their 70's it difficult to expect them to put too much emphasis on long term planning.

20 ( +23 / -3 )

No jobs. No real contracts for workers. Freelance contracts to avoid paying for services rendered. No healthcare offered to millions of people. No bonus package for millions of people. No mental healthcare available to the general public. No babysitters at a reasonable rate. I can't type anymore... tired.

45 ( +45 / -0 )

the aging population part doesn’t need mentioning, they will all eventually pass. The key is that there are less people which is a good thing.

8 ( +16 / -8 )

My son is almost 3 and has not been able to get a government hoikuen place yet despite us doing lotteries every 6 months since he was born. His private hoikuen only runs to 3 years old after that if we don't get a government place either me or my wife will have to quit our job or go part time.

It's shameful, these stories are frustrating as Japan isn't equipped to handle the low numbers of children they have now let alone more.

29 ( +32 / -3 )

single mothers are the most vulnerable now, in covid-19 times.

9 ( +16 / -7 )

"Children aged up to 2 accounted for 2.65 million" - this is a misleading translation by Kyodo : it includes 2-year-olds so should be "children aged under 3"

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Japan will face some hard times until these under-14-year-olds hit retirement age. They'll have to support retirees until they retire but there won't be enough money. Once they retire, less money will be needed and the country will adjust to a smaller population. For the next 50+ years the government will have to continue printing money, perhaps devaluing the currency.

IF there's a baby boom in the next six to sixteen years, maybe the current children will have a comfortable retirement.

I think. Is there another scenario I'm unaware of?

13 ( +14 / -1 )

Good news for anyone interested in a better quality of life.

In a world that can only comfortably support around 2bn (assuming average western standards of consumption) but is currently heading for a population of 8bn.

10 ( +14 / -4 )

No healthcare offered to millions of people. 

This is incorrect.

No bonus package for millions of people.

Japanese bonuses aren’t actual bonuses, but forced savings.

No mental healthcare available to the general public. 

Incorrect. Mental healthcare is cover red by the national insurance scheme, which is pegged to your income so dirt cheap to people with less means.

-5 ( +10 / -15 )

In a world that can only comfortably support around 2bn

Actually experts discuss 3-5bn.

Back to topic, japan has too many people. Most old people have enough resources to survive. We need to focus on a new slim lined future model. With technology and innovation, a younger generation can survive in lesser numbers.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

I am glad to see support for less people in Japan and globally. Over population is the only real problem in the world. Poverty, pollution, global warming are symptoms. A problem would be if certain countries keep growing their population and others have strong decreases but the trends seems to be towards declining numbers in more and more countries. Good.

2 ( +9 / -7 )

The modern Japanese rat-race culture of overwork leaves no time for building relationships and making babies while the low rates of remuneration make raising children an unaffordable and unwise option for many working-class folks. Ironically, the resulting population decline may ultimately bring about an improvement in the quality of life for the average Taro whose burden of supporting the super-charged capitalism of the country may be lightened in future.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

The modern Japanese rat-race culture of overwork leaves no time for building relationships and making babies while the low rates of remuneration make raising children an unaffordable and unwise option for many working-class folks.

You forgot how the women treat the men once the women have had babies. That doesn’t contribute to the population at all.

14 ( +15 / -1 )

Because wages are so crap in Japan, responsible people stop having kids. Irresponsible people have kids even when earning only ¥5m per year or even less.

5 ( +13 / -8 )

It doesn't help that many Japanese women don't want a relationship with a divorced man who has kids from a previous marriage. Believe me, they run when you tell them that. I was told just the other day by a woman that she wants to be "prioritized" and not my kids I see once a month. Anyways, I'm all for starting a family again if I get the chance, but powerful cultural norms are pushing against me.

10 ( +14 / -4 )

While Japan is leading the world on this, other countries are indeed following.

I think you see it more in local politics, but it's hard to get older generations who raised bigger families with fewer places in childcare and generally less support for parents to care about the issues faced by those with young children now. Its like the West where older homeowners assume that young people who cannot buy homes are unwilling to save or have other personal failings.

This shifting of demographics toward the old can have serious consequences. I doubt Japan decided to host the Olympics to please folks in their twenties. It is also far easier to not care what the climate is going to be like in 2050 if you are unlikely to be alive then. I'd be 82 myself.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

...and it's going to keep declining as long as Japan continues its ways of long working hours, stagnant salaries, high cost of housing, too few daycare/nursery/kindergarten facilities, and a government turning a blind eye to all these pressing issues.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

 I am glad to see support for less people in Japan and globally.

Not many people actually in Japan and going through this support it.

Over population is the only real problem in the world. *

No it isn’t.

Poverty, pollution, global warming are symptoms.

These are problems, not symptoms. Unless we change the way we do things and solve these problems it won’t matter if we cut the world population in half, we’ll still have these problems.

The world only has a millionaire population of about 50 million. Those 50 million alone are probably responsible for more pollution and contribution to climate change than the poorest 4 billion.

In other words, small populations can wreak enormous damage compared to much larger ones depending on the resources they control and how they use them, so just focusing on population size is a dead end.

11 ( +14 / -3 )

There’s no decline in birth rate among married couples. After decades of economic stagnancy caused by tight fiscal policy, people in the 20s and 30s are finding it difficult to find a decent job and get married, So if you want to increase birth rates, just increased government spending.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

With crappy salaries,it is a nightmare.

Many of my gaijin friends who have kids here are stuck.

Almost everyone of them I speak to looks to be in a desperate situation.

The Japanese nationals have their parents around who help out.

15 ( +16 / -1 )

No jobs. No real contracts for workers. Freelance contracts to avoid paying for services rendered. No healthcare offered to millions of people. No bonus package for millions of people. No mental healthcare available to the general public. No babysitters at a reasonable rate. I can't type anymore... tired.

But you forget to type the west.

-13 ( +3 / -16 )

Over population is the only real problem in the world

That is why Mother Nature has things like earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes and viruses.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

@Borscht

 

but there won't be enough money

You seriously believe Japan will run out of yen, ie, its own money? How would that happen?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Birth rates in 2018

USA --- 1.73

Japan --- 1.42

Not so different, if there were no immigrants with high birth rate in the US.

https://www.globalnote.jp/post-3758.html

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

People always see Japans move to de-populate as a negative, when it really is a positive move. Less people = easy to get a seat on trains every time, probably near zero unemployment, far less strain on the environment, kids can enter any school they choose due to no competition, more hospital beds available, hotel rooms, the list is endless.

Places like Tokyo will be so much easier to navigate around with fewer people. Furthermore, prefectures like Akita are tipped to have almost no people in the next few decades - how blissful would it be to retire to somewhere like that with no one else around for miles!

Lets hope other nations will follow Japans lead and reduce the birthrate to help the planet.

-4 ( +9 / -13 )

Too many people on this planet. I'm really not too bothered . If anything, more countries should do something about this population explosion. Countries like India, Pakistan and Nigeria are like a ticking time bombs.

Rainyday:

You do realize with the present population and poverty, there is already a big strain on the environment. Can you imagine what it would be like, if there were no poverty but with the same population? The demand for more meat and clean water, for starters. Just because you don't live in India or Africa doesn't mean these problems don't exist.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

People always see Japans move to de-populate as a negative, when it really is a positive move.

Well, let’s take a closer look at those positives.

Less people = easy to get a seat on trains every time,

No, less people = fewer trains. Train companies like any other business will cut back service when there are fewer customers. They’ll be cramming you in there just like always, but on 6 trains per hour instead of 10 (or whatever).

probably near zero unemployment

True, but Japan already has that.

far less strain on the environment,

That assumes a lot. If there are fewer people with the same rate of consumption as now, then yes. If on the other hand people just use what they save by having fewer kids to increase their own consumption, then population decline won’t have any beneficial impact.

kids can enter any school they choose due to no competition,

Less kids = fewer schools as many will have to close, so the range of choices will not go up. The number of colleges and universities hasn’t gone down yet, but is going to rapidly decrease in the next two decades. This will mostly come at the expense of low tier schools, but even at larger ones they are having problems.

more hospital beds available,

Again, fewer people = fewer hospitals. They can’t afford to maintain the same level of service with fewer people, so they will shut many of them down, as they are already doing in some parts of the country.

hotel rooms,

Not to belabor the point, but fewer people = fewer hotels.

the list is endless.

It is indeed.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

You do realize with the present population and poverty, there is already a big strain on the environment. Can you imagine what it would be like, if there were no poverty but with the same population? The demand for more meat and clean water, for starters. Just because you don't live in India or Africa doesn't mean these problems don't exist.

Understood. My point isn’t that population size is unrelated to the problems we are facing, but that cheerleading population decline in Japan specifically as if it were a solution to any of those problems makes zero sense, for reasons I outlined above.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Choose a locality where the govt supports children education. They are there, even in Tokyo. Our local ward is great.

kids are expensive in Tokyo.

young parents need to ask for help instead of always gamaning

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Too many people on this planet. I'm really not too bothered . If anything, more countries should do something about this population explosion. Countries like India, Pakistan and Nigeria are like a ticking time bombs.

Setting aside any political and sociocultural concerns, a logical win-win solution is to make global population re-balance by opening all national borders enabling full human mobility.

Japan's child population hits record low after 40 years of decline

In Japan, there are also high numbers of abortion cases, abandoned newborn babies, undocumented "foreign" children. Oddly or ironically Japanese officials lament the country's youth population shortfall (in the macro statistical level they still make sense, though)

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Less people = easy to get a seat on trains every time, probably near zero unemployment, far less strain on the environment, kids can enter any school they choose due to no competition, more hospital beds available, hotel rooms, the list is endless.

Near zero unemployment? How so? Less customers mean less jobs. Further, in this world of digitalisation, Japan can't even innovate to create new industries and replace redundant jobs. But, if Japan maintains its unique fax and hanko culture, maybe it is possible.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

And health insurance rate went up again as usual. Mostly used to support the growing elderly population despite their huge bubble-era retirement packages. This will only get worse and worse.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Until Japan steps up and protects mothers when their husbands leave them and the children behind and who are and will not pay child support and leaving them in almost poverty and or their families stuck paying for the up keep of grandchildren this is not going to change. In addition, even when a father is ordered to pay some money it is a pittance and they consider the woman's pay which most times just barely covers life and where they have to do everything 24/7 while the ex-husband is living the life of a prince. Nahh.....change this, protect women and children and you might have more women having more children.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

PS.....how about all the children in orphanages in Japan that are left there until they are 18 with no families and at the age of 18 given brown paper bags and told good luck. Start taking care of the unwanted children, allow them to be adopted and you may be surprised.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Less is more

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

This is good news for the planet. There are far too many humans and it is taking its toll on the environment. Japan’s population is falling because of these low birth rates. Hopefully the rest of the world will catch up with that. In the next few hundred years, Earth could do with there being about 90% fewer people.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

A critical issue for Japan’s future with no government fix.

Additionally, can’t help but note, when it’s a critical, Japanese issue, some posters will always try ‘throwing a little shade’ toward “the west” as a possible ‘contributor’ to a domestic problem.

Or, @10:03am, try to draw unfounded parallels from abroad to a ‘Japanese domestic problem’ when they’re clearly not relevant to what’s happening here.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Do you realize that tiny population countries have done the most effective job at fighting the coronavirus: Israel, Iceland, New Zealand, Taiwan, Singapore, etc? In fact, small countries lead the world in public healthcare and other key socio-economic indicators.

So? Did I say bigger countries have done better with Covid?

I merely pointed out the fallacy of believing that a decreasing population would somehow magically lead to more hospital beds.

I should also note that Japan’s demographic problem is not that its population is getting smaller per se, but that it is getting older. This implies a population with a lot more health issues to deal with and greater, not lesser, strains on the medical system.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Less people = easy to get a seat on trains every time

This has nothing to do with the population and everything to do with majority of the jobs/industries concentrated in one city/region.. now if these were spread across half a dozen or more locations across the country you will never have a problem with available seats on the trains.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

This article outlines the dire straights that Japan is in & still we get many trotting out the oversimplified, ""well a lower population will be better...."""

How many times do I have to say LOOK at Japan's population pyramid, the base is narrowing quickly! It is IMPORTANT HOW a population is declining, not JUST that it is declining. And as the article above states:

Children aged up to 2 accounted for 2.65 million, relatively lower than other age brackets and reflecting a decline in the number of births, the ministry said.

And this number is dropping FAST! With no immigration the population is going to resemble a pole which will disappear!

Japan's population may be declining now but at this pace it WILL PLUMMET even if the birthrate were to dramatically increase the overall population will still decline!

See Rainyday's post above about why the decline wont necessarily make for better living here

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Do you realize that tiny population countries have done the most effective job at fighting the coronavirus..

Well the governments in these tiny population countries, micro mange everything..and will do literally anything, there is not much concept of individual rights... there version of democracy is very different than countries with real democracy.. given a choice high majority in any demographic will want o migrate to countries with real democracy (eg:- US) and not these tiny population countries.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

An ageing society means fewer jobs doing things that might be fun or fulfilling, teaching, making sports cars or snowboarding gear, fashion, pop music, djing, and more jobs doing things that may be fulfilling but aren't especially fun, nursing, care giving, and making things for people with declining faculties.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Too many people on this planet. I'm really not too bothered . If anything, more countries should do something about this population explosion. Countries like India, Pakistan and Nigeria are like a ticking time bombs.

Over time it would be great to reduce the population, but it is going to cause significant problems in Japan over the next twenty years as baby boomers continue to retire and fewer and fewer people of working age being available to pay for them.

And while I should avoid any whataboutery, developing countries are adding a hundred million a year to the earth's population. We should try and focus on reducing the birth rate in developing countries and tackle the cultural and religious practices that encourage large families.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Did what i could, how about you guys??

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Not to worry... the government is "looking into it", no doubt. In another 20 years they may even have talked about it and be thinking about having discussions on what to do. The politicians at that time -- probably the children of current politicians -- will blame the politicians (no their parents, though) of yesteryear, saying they inherited and can do nothing about it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The population doesn't have to keep increasing, a balance between the resources and population have to be managed.

Japan is at least one of the better nations in terms of protecting nature's resource with some caveats of like coal usage and fishing.

Despite how people feel fruits and vegetables are expensive, I feel that those prices are exactly priced right to keep farming alive and not making massive farmlands just to sell cheap but create huge wastages.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan is at least one of the better nations in terms of protecting nature's resource with some caveats of like coal usage and fishing.

It really isn't. The natural forests have been stripped and replaced with cypress and cedar trees which cause untold suffering to the populace and provide little for native species, with no plan to reverse this at all.

Almost every river has been ruined with concrete, almost every beach ruined with concrete walls, bays sterilised with toxic chemicals, prefectures evacuated and stigmatised for generations by a nuclear tragedy caused by gross governmental incompetence.

An inability to reduce plastic waste, a poor record of expanding renewable energy, an appalling record of prohibition of animal suffering, an even worse record of protecting endangered species, an even worse record (if it were possible) of the treatment of animals within the realm of 'entertainment' (see your owl and hedgehog cafes in this one)

And then yes, we get to coal and fishing, which would take an hour to document.

The population doesn't have to keep increasing, a balance between the resources and population have to be managed.

Amen to that. A smaller population may reduce some of the pressure to ruin it all, but the callous attitude to nature probably won't change.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

If a restaurant closes some minutes earlier because of some phantasy corona rules , it immediately receives an enormous daily financial support, tax easements etc. You won’t hear about something similar about young families who want children or already care about them. That small example alone tells you a big part of the whole story.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It's kind of a negative feedback loop with things just getting worse and people less likely to have children.

The thing is, people in poor countries have so much less and are somehow able to have children, the world belongs to their children.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Less Japanese to compete for limited resources is a positive point !

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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