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Japan ranked 6th in quality of life for children

40 Comments

Japan is ranked sixth in the world in terms of the quality of life for its children, according to the results of a survey conducted by UNICEF and Japan's National Institute for Population and Social Security Research.

The survey, which covered 31 countries, focused on health, education and the living environment for children.

According to the survey, the top countries were the Netherlands, then Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. Japan ranked number one for education and wealth, strict yet effective systems, and safety, but for economic disparity and natural wealth, Japan fell to number 21.

This is the first time Japan has been included in this particular survey focusing on the happiness of children across the globe.

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With all the suicides, bullying, stress for entrance exams, lack of creativity and free thought taught in schools, etc. I don't think that the youth here have it all that good at all. In fact that is why I plan to raise my children in Canada instead of here

In terms of suicide only, 15-19 year olds, Japan 6.4, Canada 10.8; under 15, Japan 0.32, Canada 0.68 per 100,000.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

First for education? Boring, underfunded classes of 30-40 students, all force fed information out of text books using the same methods as 30 years ago. Has there ever been Computer in an elementary class? Do Japanese students know what a smart board is? First for education????

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Thanks for looking that up, Cleo. A bit of an eye-opener for me.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Healthcare, education, basic security (including shelter), yes. But what about happiness? Did they calculate in, say, rates of suicide among children? I wonder if that would change things up.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Education? They must have focused only on elementary school.

5 ( +11 / -6 )

I agree with mito. Elementary school kids here seem to have it good. My kids haven't reached middle school yet, so I don't know exactly what's in store for them, but I'm worried about conformity.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Did they calculate in, say, rates of suicide among children? I wonder if that would change things up.

More likely change things down. According to this -

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1414751/

-which is for 1995 and covers children aged 15-19, top of the child suicide list is the Russian Federation with a rate of 23.2 per 100,000, followed by New Zealand with 22.0.

The Netherlands has a rate of 3.5, Finland 14.7, Iceland 9.5, Norway 13.4, Sweden 7.1 and Japan 5.0.

For children under the age of 15 I could only find this -

http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/0710C502EEE8D980CA257BF0001A4ED6/$File/inttrch.pdf

-which lists the rates per 100,000 of selected countries. From 1990-99, the rate in the Netherlands was 0.23, Finland 0.39, Iceland not given, Norway 0.67, Sweden 0.22 and Japan 0.32.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I don't know how they determined these results, but I don't believe Japan should be that high on the list. Not sure where they make the cut off for children/adolescents/adults, but in Japan those under 20 are considered children. With all the suicides, bullying, stress for entrance exams, lack of creativity and free thought taught in schools, etc. I don't think that the youth here have it all that good at all. In fact that is why I plan to raise my children in Canada instead of here. I for one want my children to be able to enjoy their youth.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

One thing Japan and the Scandinavian nations have in their favour for statistics like this is their social uniformity. In other rich nations like the US, UK, NZ and Australia etc. there are portions of the population who live in very different conditions than the majority and this brings ratings down. In New Zealand, for example, it's the Polynesian immigrants and Maori who record significantly lower education, health and crimes statistics. That's not to place any blame on such minorities as the government can always do more to help them, but it must skew the results to some degree.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

In New Zealand, for example, it's the Polynesian immigrants and Maori who record significantly lower education, health and crimes statistics. That's not to place any blame on such minorities as the government can always do more to help them, but it must skew the results to some degree.

On the other hand, New Zealand often has a significant advantage over other countries in these kind of world rankings as it has a tiny population of 4.5 million. Compared to over 125 million in Japan and 317 million in the United States. It shouldn't be surprising that Scandinavian countries and those with even smaller populations are able to achieve some highly enviable social progress. Once you get to Iceland - I mean, who cares? The place has only got 320,000 people.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The full report can be found here : http://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/pdf/rc11_comparing%20japan_fnl.pdf

2 ( +3 / -1 )

sourpussDEC. 26, 2013 - 10:46PM JST love the negative comments here. some are just always looking for a way to stick it to Japan. lol raising kids here has been a real eye-opener. the number of good quality parks and opportunities for kids and parents to explore the great outdoors is surprisingly high. loads and loads of hiking, camping, athletic parks, sports arenas, swimming venues, botanical gardens, museums, zoos, ski slopes, beaches etc. No matter where or when i take my kids anywhere, i always notice how active the kids are, and how many there are of them enjoying the great outdoors. fishing, biking, swimming, boating, skiing, playing soccer, baseball, unicycling, jumping rope, playing badminton, tennis, surfing, you name a sport, and there are oodles of kids all over japan doing it.

Yes, these places exist (obviously where you live at least), but a large number of kids have to play in streets and narrow alleyways. Around my kids the nearest park is 15 minutes walk and his only bi enough to kick a ball a few feet and have swing. It makes me feel very sad for Japanese kids especially when other nations kids can play in their spacious back yards and have access tto parks WITH GREEN GRASS!

2 ( +4 / -2 )

igloobuyerDec. 27, 2013 - 01:16AM JST

Japanese kids are free from

1)War 2)Drug 3)Guns 4)Crimes

So is most of Europe, Oceania and Canada, and in these countries children live in less cramped conditions with open backyards for playing and education system that encourages independent and free thinking and practical skills over rote-learnt

Very good point indeed. I think about all little ones in the Middle East, Africa, and Afghanistan too often. They are trapped in war and they have no pillows to rest their heads, Instead of going to school, they have to wells to get fresh water for survival.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Netherlands #1? im surprised.

Yet somehow id still rather raise my children here in Japan than back home. Mainly because I feel Japan is a more kidfriendly country ( well aside from the random parent kill kid happenings).

1 ( +4 / -3 )

I am rather shocked that Japan ranked first for education. Lots of great things here and I think the kids here are very well looked after but 1st in education with all the test stress and bullying?? I figured a Scandinavian country would have that locked up for the win. 6th is something to be proud of! Well done!

1 ( +8 / -7 )

kiwi07Dec. 26, 2013 - 08:16AM JST

Thanks for the info. US is not doing very well, and I am not too surprised.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Did anyone notice that a Japanese institution jointly conducted the survey? Ah, ok, I guess the same Japanese officials who have gone on record as saying, "Japan has the world's best climate," Japan has the best food, Japan has the world's cleanest public toilets," etc.

1 ( +8 / -7 )

cleoDEC. 26, 2013 - 11:21PM JST New Zealand often has a significant advantage over other countries in these kind of world rankings New Zealand is second for suicide rate among 15-19 year-olds.

And the point of adding this random fact is....?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Japanese kids are free from

1)War 2)Drug 3)Guns 4)Crimes

So is most of Europe, Oceania and Canada, and in these countries children live in less cramped conditions with open backyards for playing and education system that encourages independent and free thinking and practical skills over rote-learnt knowledge.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

I am impressed with their good upbringing, polite manners, willingness to engage with a smiling stranger, and their obvious psychological balance, happiness and courage. In general, they're not like Canadian kids, who have been inculcated with fear and mistrust of strangers, thanks to 'helicopter' moms, dads and others.

Yes, to an extent I agree, what concerns me though is how Japanese society turns these innocent, happy, balanced little people into fearful, stressed, low self-esteem and confidence adults. That's why I will not be living the rest of my life here.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

100% agree - which is why I roll my eyes at many who suggest these kind of rankings mean anything. More so when Japan and many schools have been caught cherry picking results - which DOES happen in other countries as well. However, I don't think nationalism and pride is so wrapped up in such results like it is here.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Any info on suicide rates in Scandavians?? Maybe they also beat Japan??

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Ditto that, taj !

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The government probably falsify their numbers to not fall to much behind.... this is a much more probable possibility that Japan rating six on the world rank unless they start by the end of the list. :)

Whitch is a shame by the way.

With a slow down population, and so litlle children, as the third economy of the world they should rank first.

Even if those numbers were true -whitch i am sure are not, but for the rich that can pay- it would still be desastrous new for the government.

The quality of the educational system would be much more interresting. Letting your only kid do what he want, when he want, pay him anything in the country of Mario and Link, it is not that difficult to provide good quality of life and happiness.

But does that make happy adult ?

Those number in definitive, lack all the important questions that would make us able to make a good analysis of the state of the country. It is boggus.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Methodology?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japanese kids are well entertained with games, Nintendo 3ds, PS vitas, smartphones, anime, manga, and lots of toys. They are the happiest kids in the planet! No wonder!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Good for these Scandinavian countries and the Netherlands, but when you have such a small population, on average 6 million people, with abundant natural resources, is it not easy to provide for your people and offer then a good quality of life? I'm not really sure what other countries can do to compete with this.

Many of the individual states in the United States are roughly of same size as the countries mentioned above and command large independent authority over their policies, particularly education, which I would expect is one of the biggest things affecting the life of children. Your criticism is therefore unfounded.

Aside from Norway, I'm not exactly sure what abundant natural resources you are referring to, especially if you compare them to some individual states of the US.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I admit, I have a hard time with any data collected by the Japanese government or agencies because there is such a lack of transparency. I also don't think info from 1995 is of any held either when you consider just how badly off the Japanese economy is now compared to then.

I have taught in a few different countries - public and private schools. All have their pros and cons but I would certainly not think Japan would rank number one based on my experiences. As someone else mentioned, perhaps this is just taking ele schools into consideration. If ele, great. JHS and HS? I don't believe it.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

tmarieDEC. 28, 2013 - 01:36PM JST I admit, I have a hard time with any data collected by the Japanese government or agencies because there is such a lack of transparency. I also don't think info from 1995 is of any held either when you consider just how badly off the Japanese economy is now compared to then.

I have taught in a few different countries - public and private schools. All have their pros and cons but I would certainly not think Japan would rank number one based on my experiences. As someone else mentioned, perhaps this is just taking ele schools into consideration. If ele, great. JHS and HS? I don't believe it.

You really can't take these rankings that seriously; they are a very rough guide at best, and a complete waste of time at worst. Have a look at how the data was recorded. <www.unicef-irc.org/publications/pdf/rc11_comparing%20japan_fnl.pdf>

You'll see that Education score is based on the PSI score which is an international test for 15 year olds - hardly a good indicator of education quality in elementary schools!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Good for these Scandinavian countries and the Netherlands, but when you have such a small population, on average 6 million people, with abundant natural resources, is it not easy to provide for your people and offer then a good quality of life? I'm not really sure what other countries can do to compete with this.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

"that is why I plan to raise my children in Canada instead of here"

My friends who have raised kids in Canada in recent years say the public schools are now rife with narcotics and organized crime, that includes schools not just in the cities but in rural areas. Never used to be like this.

It's a huge challenge for Canadian parents nowadays to keep their kids clean. One option is private school, which will set you back 20k a year or so per kid. So...take your pick.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

love the negative comments here. some are just always looking for a way to stick it to Japan. lol

raising kids here has been a real eye-opener. the number of good quality parks and opportunities for kids and parents to explore the great outdoors is surprisingly high. loads and loads of hiking, camping, athletic parks, sports arenas, swimming venues, botanical gardens, museums, zoos, ski slopes, beaches etc. No matter where or when i take my kids anywhere, i always notice how active the kids are, and how many there are of them enjoying the great outdoors. fishing, biking, swimming, boating, skiing, playing soccer, baseball, unicycling, jumping rope, playing badminton, tennis, surfing, you name a sport, and there are oodles of kids all over japan doing it.

japanese kids actively catch and keep insects. i'd never seen any kid do that in canada. go to any park in the summer here and you can't spend 30 minutes without seeing some kid with a butterfly net trying to catch a cicada or a cricket or a moth or something, that they then hold it gently in their hand before either releasing it, or putting it in a special insect box. for me this was the stuff of fairy tales until i saw it for the first time.

a lot of westerners in Japan have trouble finding their way out of Shibuya and Roppongi, though, so it's not surprising that they have negative views. and no matter what they see, they tend to twist things to be more in line with how they expect things to be. kids study? they must study TOO HARD. kids play sports? they must play them TOO MUCH. kids play computer games? that's ALL THEY DO. some kids in the news commit suicide? ALL KIDS COMMIT SUICIDE. some kids in the news are bullied? ALL KIDS ARE BULLIED. and so on. it's ridiculous.

some people here really need to get out more and take the blinders off. japanese kids living in tokyo get out of tokyo much more often than the average foreigner does. TOKYO IS NOT JAPAN.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

New Zealand often has a significant advantage over other countries in these kind of world rankings

New Zealand is second for suicide rate among 15-19 year-olds.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

wipeoutDEC. 27, 2013 - 06:10PM JST So is most of Europe, Oceania and Canada, and in these countries children live in less cramped conditions with open backyards for playing. The lucky ones do. There are many people in Britain who live in tower blocks, low rise flats, and every city has a large stock of terraced housing. They have yards, but it meets the British definition of the word: a concrete or flagstone space, usually surrounded by high walls. I think you'll find similar conditions repeated across much of Europe.

Yes, but I think it's a matter of degrees and proportions. A large number of Japanese kids live in danchi blocks with conditions as bad as those in the UK etc. I expect crime levels are higher in the UK and Europe so that is something Japan has for Japanese kids. But in Japan, unless you live in very rural places there are few places from them to play outside. It so sad to see J-kids playing in the street near my house and have to watch out for cars.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Yes, but I think it's a matter of degrees and proportions

Quite so, but that's why a sweeping generalization covering 3 continents falls on its arse. I grew up in a terraced house, and we had a concrete yard backing onto an alleyway. It was far too small to run around in or play in. There was no park nearby either. If I wanted to kick a ball around, I had to go to the playing field of the nearby elementary school, which was not actually public space. Other than that, there was nothing.

This isn't about me, or about deprivation (far from it, it was a good house and I had a happy childhood), but it's a common experience in Britain, where space is at a premium. Houses all over the country were expensive then and are far more expensive now.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

electric2004Dec. 27, 2013 - 07:41PM JST

Thanks for the correct info. Why is China not listed here? After all, what China has been saying how well they are may not be all true.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I think many of the posts are missing significant issues here as I am posting from a place where we had two mass school shootings.

Japanese kids are from:

1)War

2)Drug

3)Guns

4)Crimes

Japanese kids receive these benefits:

1)National Health Plan

2)Nutrition Assistance if they are in low income

3)Schools are within a walking distance (no school bus)

4)Social networks available in community.

If I had kids now, I would raise my kids in Japan until they are ready to go to the college.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Frankly, I don't care whether Japan ranks 1st, 2nd, 6th or 10th. Same for my home country Canada. We're not Somalia. When I'm in Japan, I'm constantly looked at with awe by the little ones and regularly swarmed by kids who want to practice their English, and who are extremely patient with my Japanese. They love the little Canadian flag lapel pins I give them, too, as do their parents. I am impressed with their good upbringing, polite manners, willingness to engage with a smiling stranger, and their obvious psychological balance, happiness and courage. In general, they're not like Canadian kids, who have been inculcated with fear and mistrust of strangers, thanks to 'helicopter' moms, dads and others. I love that about Japan, and it's a big part of why I want to spend the rest of my life there, quality of life rankings for children aside.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

So is most of Europe, Oceania and Canada, and in these countries children live in less cramped conditions with open backyards for playing.

The lucky ones do. There are many people in Britain who live in tower blocks, low rise flats, and every city has a large stock of terraced housing. They have yards, but it meets the British definition of the word: a concrete or flagstone space, usually surrounded by high walls.

I think you'll find similar conditions repeated across much of Europe.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

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