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Japan's child population falls for 38th year, hitting postwar low

35 Comments
By Mari Yamaguchi

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Conservative lawmakers in Abe's government have at times blamed the elderly or childless for long-term demographic trends.

Many who have no children of their own. Japanese lawmakers love to point fingers and blame others, for their own policy failures.

13 ( +15 / -2 )

Japan's birthrate has remained low amid a lack of support for working women, who continue to face the burden of homemaking and other traditional roles, as well as excessively long working hours and high education costs.

Well, isn’t this a convenient lie? All these reasons listed have existed in Japanese society for the last 50 years. Obviously, the declining birthrate has more sinister reasons behind it. People were working a lot more and the child care crisis also existed during the bubble period. Economic success results in an increase of births. Economic recession results in a decrease of births. People can not afford to have kids.

14 ( +17 / -3 )

There was a show in tv last night talking about how this one island in Kagoshima has reversed the trend for the last ten years. Child per woman ratio is about 2.8.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Issues of overpopulation and overconsumption are are much important and it's pure ignorance of the goverment of simply trying to reverse population fall in order to blindly keep chasing economic growth.

Many quality of life issues are linked to Japan's high popualtion density.

To put everything into perspective, in 1950, not so long ago, population was 83 million (over 50 million less than now).

4 ( +7 / -3 )

ifd66,

…..sigh, once again an oversimplification!! Japans problem is NOT just a decline in population but HOW it is declining, you and many others need to learn & understand what a population pyramid is & LOOK at Japans, Japan is on the road to extinction right now if things don't change.

I am ALL for overall decrease in humans, BUT one must look at populations & trends in areas concerned to see how bets to go about, simply just hoping for populations to drop can & DOES cause lots of problems(like in Japan) that are more than just relayed to the economy!

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Economic success results in an increase of births. Economic recession results in a decrease of births. People can not afford to have kids.

That's not entirely correct. As societies become more financially secure, they have less children. In third world nations, people have many children, both because of high infant mortality rates, and so that there will be more children to support them when they get elderly. As nations become prosperous, infant mortality rates fall through better access to health care. And as social safety nets are created to support people in their old age there is less need to have multiple children. As a result birth rates drop. It's seen pretty much anywhere that you see a sudden (as in 'a few decades') increase in economic prosperity in a society, with the exception of a few outliers due to other influences.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Economic success results in an increase of births. Economic recession results in a decrease of births.

Not true. The greatest decline in the Japanese fertility (aka birth rate) occurred in the postwar boom years when real incomes were rising at more than 10% per year. Further, both the number of births and the fertility rate went steadily downward during the 1980s boom years. The fertility rate bottomed in 2005 and has generally been moving upward since then.

There is no simple correlation between economic conditions and fertility altough generally poverty is associated with high fertility. Births and birthrates are high in poor countries because so many infants and children die before reaching adulthood.

Fertility is declining in the Nordic countries even though their economies are strong.

Okinawa has the highest fertility rate in Japan and has had the highest fertility rate in Japan for more than forty years. It's fertility rate is higher than that of the US and most European countries. Okinawa is also the poorest prefecture in Japan. And, no, the fertility rate is not explained by the presence of US Marines in Okinawa.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Again, what's the big deal? There are over 126 million Japanese in Japan, way ahead of most other Asian nations in the world. Compare that to the U.S. with over 300 million people, but many times the size of Japan.

Much ado about nothing.

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

It is a US intention to reduce Japanese population and royal family members with WGIP (War Guilt Information Program).

-16 ( +1 / -17 )

Maybe the fact they are noisy and really expensive things to have, and 40% never leave home.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Japan's birthrate has remained low amid a lack of support for working women, who continue to face the burden of homemaking and other traditional roles, 

A burden? Looking after your home is not difficult if you stay organised. Many of these 'homemakers' love spending hubnie's hard earned money on coffee meetings with their counterparts.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

I'm willing to do my part. Where do I sign up.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

It’s really not possible to bring up a medium sized family in a cramped 2 bed apartment.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

Apparently there are a third fewer children now at the start of Reiwa than there were at the start of Heisei. We're not into Pied Piper territory yet, but I don't like the thought of a society without children. I'm not even sure you can have a fair society if people with the longest to live can be easily outvoted by those with the shortest. The latter have no stake in any long-term vision of the future.

I like numbers and some years ago, I worked out that there were four million fewer young women then than when I first arrived in Japan. The gap will be bigger now.

I say it every time, but make child-rearing fun and people will choose to do it. In Japan, there is far too much war-era forced group activity and coerced volunteering and too little free time to enjoy as a family. Some of my biggest memories of childhood are of family holidays. We used to go for two weeks every year, as did everyone around us. Pretty much no-one in Japan does this. It took 10 days of Reiwa for my family to manage five nights' camping. Even that needed my kids to skip their clubs.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Japan's birthrate has remained low amid a lack of support for working women, who continue to face the burden of homemaking and other traditional roles, as well as excessively long working hours and high education costs.

Not only. Many women have now realised that motherhood just isn't the be all and end all of being a woman (and same re men/dads); mothers who regret having kids are more open about it as they're less ostracized (they still are) by society. What's wrong with acknowledging that motherhood/parenthood isnt 'that' great (or 'always' great) &/or not for everyone? Educated, independent women tend to have fewer children.

Other factors that contribute to this trend: no scummy-mummy culture over here, very few migrants from high-birth rate countries &/or ethnic/religious groups (let's be honest, they're the reason the us, uk, fr and a few other western countries have higher birth rates).

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I say it every time, but make child-rearing fun and people will choose to do it. 

Hasn't worked in Norway a country that has repeatedly been cited as the best country in the world to raise children. The Norwegian government has started appealing to Norwegians to have more kids.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/01/21/world/social-issues-world/babies-wanted-nordic-countries-crying-kids-demographics-put-sinking-boat-japan/

Norway has done everything that people say Japan should do to raise the fertility rate. Moreover, it did them some decades ago. The latest figures put the Norwegian fertility rate at 1.5, Japan at 1.43.

Most of the reforms should be made but the expectation that they will lead to a dramatic change in the Japanese fertility rate is probably wishful thinking.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

It’s really not possible to bring up a medium sized family in a cramped 2 bed apartment.

There are a bunch of families doing just that in their cramped 2 LDKs in my neighborhood.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

It’s really not possible to bring up a medium sized family in a cramped 2 bed apartment.

yet, the Japanese do it. As always, Japan accomplishes so much with so little.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Less people is good.

This planet is overpopulated.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Some reasons for low birthrate are:-

Lack of quality family time together. From over work and too much time apart. Couples and families need enough time to continue to grow together and spend time doing things together. Or they grow apart and argue more often.

Lack of support for families with both parents working, or for single mothers working.

One thing is clear is that poor nations where people have less work, have more time to be together and produce more babies. Industrialized nations with more employment and longer working hours have less babies and much more stress.

In nine months from now there will be a mini baby boom in Japan from the 10 day national holiday. Take note and learn why from that.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

It’s really not possible to bring up a medium sized family in a cramped 2 bed apartment.

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There are a bunch of families doing just that in their cramped 2 LDKs in my neighborhood.

And, it sucks. Which is probably another reason that less people want to do it.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

This is not a blame game. Japan is very overcrowded in big cities.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I did my best.. made 2 kids already.. could make another one but man.. i'm tired lol

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Young men of Japan. It is time to do your duty. Put down your x-boxes: your smart phones and stop working 60 hours a week. Ask not what Japan can do for you, but what you can do for Japan.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

People dont have babies here because Japanese society forces parents to do so many extra activites; it's overbearing with ptas, kodomokais, local town maturis and cleaning duty, mothers are expected to sew all their kids clothes and makes special things for their kids and correct their kids homework and so on. They won't even leave you alone on Sundays or holidays. All these extra jobs makes parents stop at having one kid maybe two. I got 3 and we're busy all the time. Plus the non-baby sitting culture leaves no time for mom's and dads to even have a life. No government programs will fix

this problem, it's a societial problem. They make it really hard on themselves.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

We have family friends who have 6 children, and 4 children. The average is three children but we also have friends with one child. In our current location with very large homes, I see families with three children. The drop in birth rate is inner city because of high cost of living and smaller homes.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Hasn't worked in Norway a country that has repeatedly been cited as the best country in the world to raise children. The Norwegian government has started appealing to Norwegians to have more kids.

Hi bullfighter. Thanks for the reply.

I don't disagree with you, but will point out that Norwegian women have much more advanced careers than Japanese. Japan has millions of housewives and part-time working women. Many work deliberately short hours to remain dependent on their husbands in the pension and health schemes.

I think it would make more sense to compare Japan's birthrate with countries where women have the same low number of hours in the workplace. Not "participation in the workforce" because many housewives do work, only short hours in jobs that often have limited responsibilities. So they will be qualify as "working", but won't be doing anywhere near what many women in Norway do. Norwegian women therefore have much more to give up by having children than Japanese women.

Japan's pension scheme has been set up to rely on a constant supply of young people joining, not on a sovereign wealth fund like Norway has. So the birthrate here is also more of an issue.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

One top pre-war woman writer, Akiko Yosano, had a dozen kids! Former PM Hashimoto and wife had five. The elites need to step it up too.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The article isn't clear on it, but I'm curious as to whether or not children born to non-Japanese parents in Japan are counted in this census. I know they're not Japanese in the eyes of the government, but they do contribute to the population numbers of this country.

But as a woman, I wouldn't want to raise my children here, for a plethora of reasons. Lack of childcare, lack of job advancement, education costs for public schools alone are shocking, plus I don't want to dedicate every single weekend to club activities and have to wake up at 5am to handmake a bento because a sandwich, yogurt, and piece of fruit would show my child up in front of the other kids.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Kohakuebisu:

"...I don't like the thought of a society without children. I'm not even sure you can have a fair society if people with the longest to live can be easily outvoted by those with the shortest."

Children can't vote. They might vote to improve the schooling situation, for one (and not just in japan).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Young men of Japan. It is time to do your duty. Put down your x-boxes...

In other words, Japan needs more alpha males.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The government must give motives to have kid or more kids and also punishment for the ones they don't with pension cuts and add taxes .

That money could also used to make orphanage with overseas kids(an artificial solution) !

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Disney just need to put on a “procreation parade” and you’ll have 20million new kids born within a year.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Disney just need to put on a “procreation parade” and you’ll have 20million new kids born within a year.

Well, if it's led by Jasmine, it should be successful...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan's pension scheme has been set up to rely on a constant supply of young people joining, not on a sovereign wealth fund like Norway has. So the birthrate here is also more of an issue.

Norway has a sovereign wealth fund with the money company from North Sea oil. Japan has no equivalent.

In all Nordic countries, the declining birth rate has been cited in terms of not having enough younger workers paying taxes to support the pensions of retired people.

Pick a Nordic country. Then search on country + pensions + "birth rate" to see for yourself. The issue may be of lesser magnitude than in the case of Japan but it's there.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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