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Lowest number of elementary and junior high school students ever as birthrate continue to decline

46 Comments

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology has announced that the number of students attending elementary and junior high schools in Japan has declined since last year and is the lowest it has ever been.

According to the ministry, the numbers are expected to continue to decline for at least the next five years, TV Asahi reported.

Following a study conducted by the ministry, it was announced that there was a total of 6.6 million children attending elementary schools and only 3.5 million students in junior high schools this year -- a drop of about 100,000 compared to last year.

The ministry report said the decline in school attendance is due to the falling birth rate and is expected to continue for at least the next five years.

On a positive note, the ministry also reported that over the last year, about 120,000 elementary and junior high school students did not miss a single day of school for 30 days in a row or more, aside from those with health or economic issues. This is the first time perfect attendance numbers has risen in over six years.

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This is just another part of the failure of Abenomics. Abe wants more women in the workplace, but Japan also needs to increase the birth rate. He has done nothing about increasing child care facilities and/or welfare assistance for families. What do want Abe? More women workers or more babies? You can't have both!

-6 ( +11 / -17 )

If this statistic is true, then why are there classrooms with 40 students in them? Let's see some statistics about the national average number of students in the junior high classrooms. 25 students should be the maximum in any classroom in the nation. Also, has any study been done where WOMEN, working or not, have been asked why they do not have a second child? Most likely, the reason is the hospital and other medical costs from conception to delivery. 100% coverage of the medical costs for the first two children may make a difference.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

The teacher/student ratio could improve by itself or school districts might consolidate. If schools close the amount of students per class could stay high.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

What dystopia awaits us?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Unless the government is actually aiming for a lower population they really need to act pretty quickly.

There are multiple issues here clearly for example;

Work style, the idea that working long is working hard has got to go.. If you are good at your job and your are being expected to complete a reasonable amount of work there is no reason to be at work more than 8 hours or so a day. Anyone who has spent any length of time in a Japanese business will have lamented at the more often than not socially required "extended" work day. Go home, spend time with you family, partners etc.

Wages, how any person can be expected to have and raise a family on ¥900 yen an hour on some "take it or leave it" contract, with no health insurance and so on is beyond me.

Lack of support for child care, yes Japan needs more women working and I hope will benefit for a few less grumpy old men, but without comprehensive support and regulation to allow women to keep their jobs when they become pregnant this issue is only going to get worse.

Along with a plethora of other issues..

12 ( +13 / -1 )

"120,000 elementary and junior high school students did not miss a single day of school for 30 days in a row or more, aside from those with health or economic issues. This is the first time perfect attendance numbers has risen in over six years."?

Out of 10.1 million total? Only 1.2 pct had no absences in a month? And even that 120,000 includes students who missed due to "health or economic issues"?

5 ( +6 / -1 )

How can it be blamed on Abenomics? 12 or 13 years ago,when people were deciding not to have another child in addition to the ones now entering junior high,who was Prime Minister?

16 ( +17 / -1 )

it was announced that there was a total of 6.6 million children attending elementary schools and only 3.5 million students in junior high schools this year—a drop of about 100,000 compared to last year.

And the pity is when these 10.1 milion kids get to working age, they'll be working un great part simply to pay off the huge debt their parents and grand-parents have run up. And since we can't expect a huge social change by then, that burden will fall almost entirely on the 5 million or so guys. Good luck with that.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

One reason is an increasing desire among women to delay domestic life in favor of earning money.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

My sister-in-law in Saitama told me that my nephew's elementary school was closed because of a lack of students and has now been converted into an old age home!!!

4 ( +6 / -2 )

According to the ministry, the numbers are expected to continue to decline for at least the next five years, TV Asahi reported."

At least the next 5 years?...as in what miracle is going to happen in 6th year time when there will be even fever women of child bearing age around? With serious immigration off the table in Japan and any proposed reforms that Abe says will make women "shine" still probably being discussed / watered down by various panels of old guys this decline will not stop in 5 years, thats for sure.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

But still impossible to get into any government run school

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

marcelitoAug. 11, 2014 - 09:00AM JST At least the next 5 years?...as in what miracle is going to happen in 6th year time when there will be even fever women of child bearing age around?

You beat me to the punch marcelito. I'm also wondering what's going to happen in the 6th year? Abe's term will end so he won't care any more is my guess.

noriyosan73Aug. 11, 2014 - 07:46AM JST Also, has any study been done where WOMEN, working or not, have been asked why they do not have a second child? Most likely, the reason is the hospital and other medical costs from conception to delivery. 100% coverage of the medical costs for the first two children may make a difference.

Hi noriyosan. Just a quick correction, but medical costs for conception to delivery are nearly nil in Japan unless you have a complicated birth (e.g. emergency c-section).

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Well I am doing my part with 3 kids, and what I get out of it is a nice tax increase,,,

14 ( +15 / -1 )

I'm a stay at home dad in Japan and the reality is very different. Most of my female friends have 2, 3 and sometimes 4 kids because as soon as a woman has a child get career is over, men do not stay home with the kids, result, women no longer want any kids, even staying single so they can avoid the mother house wife trap.

Also don't know where this crowed class room thing comes from as in my area they keep closing schools due to lack of kids to fill them. My daughters kindergarten has only 6 kids in year 1 and my son's elementary school had merged with 3 schools just so they can fill up the class rooms. The site that had the previous school is now going to have a senior citizens home.

If they want things to change they have to make it that men can take time off work to care for kids to give women a break. Also do something so that companies create flexible part time jobs which women can take. When we moved back here from London my wife had a real hard time getting a job due to having children. They refused to believe that her husband would care for the kids and a such might need days off for the kids.

Lastly there is also the medical cost. We had both our kids in London as all medical things baby related were 100% free. Here you have to pay for everything, safe receipts and then get some of it back later. Most people simply can't afford to have a child. My wife would love more kids but we simply can't afford it.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Japan has a de facto one child policy and it's working.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Gerard good points.

I took 2 weeks paternity leave for my last kid from a JP company and although it was a right, there were comments about how it is unusual to take more than 1-2 days. In fact the company allows up to 3 months. Even in those 2 weeks some gunners (men) tried to take part of my work areas. So back in the saddle now,,,

3 ( +5 / -2 )

@noriyosan73

If this statistic is true, then why are there classrooms with 40 students in them? Let's see some statistics about the national average number of students in the junior high classrooms. 25 students should be the maximum in any classroom in the nation

You are so right ! However, the school I was asked to teach (as a "replacement" for a sick teacher) had no less than 60 students in the classes I taught - that's when I realized not only "bullying" but also "over-crowding" would have been what my child would have had to put up with had I not sent him to an International school - where the maximum number of students per class IS 25..

This was a girl's school in Shibuya. The first class I taught were the youngest pupils. They were chatting among themselves and not listening to a word I said. The second class students were a little older... They were putting on male-up, nail-polish and/or helping their friends change their "hair-style". The last class was the oldest group of students. At least they were the quietest ! They spent their time sleeping on their desks...That's when I gave up !

5 ( +7 / -2 )

The birth rate is actually slowly recovering. http://www.ipss.go.jp/syoushika/tohkei/Popular/P_Detail2014.asp?fname=T04-05.htm&title1=%87W%81D%8Fo%90%B6%81E%89%C6%91%B0%8Cv%89%E6&title2=%95%5C%82S%81%7C%82T+%8E%E5%97v%90%E6%90i%8D%91%82%CC%8D%87%8Cv%93%C1%8E%EA%8Fo%90%B6%97%A6%81F1950%81%602012%94N

Average number of children a Japanese woman is likely to have in life.

2000 1.36, 2001 1.33, 2002 1.32, 2003 1.29

2004 1.29, 2005 1.26, 2006 1.32, 2007 1.34

2008 1.37, 2009 1.37, 2010 1.39, 2011 1.39

2012 1.41

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I understand the economic reasons for wanting to increase the birthrate, but it does seem like, considering the strain on global natural resources and ecosystems, etc. and the very high rate of resource consumption per capita in highly developed countries like Japan, that birthrates at or below the rate of replacement are in many ways desirable in the long-term.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Acetyldehyde, that is an encouraging trend. If it gets to 2.05 or 2.1, then you've stabilized the population trend.

There's many sides to this issue. There's a group going for more babies per woman. There's another group seeking to keep the birthrate low because there's "too many people" in Japan.

In all, the country needs a consensus on what it wants through the democratic process. Elect officials to all echelons of power that will promote one or the other.

The business community, too, must make hard choices. Creating a baby-positive environment is possible; one of the ways they can learn from Europe, or even the USA. Many of my bosses have been mothers, and if they think women are any less motivated at work because of children, boy are they in for a shock.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@noriyosan

I liked your comments about the classroom size and gave your post an up vote, however I disagree with this part of your post.

Most likely, the reason is the hospital and other medical costs from conception to delivery. 100% coverage of the medical costs for the first two children may make a difference.

Lets face it, the cost to give birth to a child is extremely low compared with the costs of properly raising the child. If anyone is being deterred from having a child because they can't afford the $1200 it costs from conception to delivery then I would suggest that those people are too poor to have a second child anyway and have likely made the correct choice in stopping at one.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

@Disillusioned. Actually, allowing more women into the workforce could (in theory) produce more babies, if women are given the chance to share more of the workload (and work time) with men. This (in theory) would allow both more time for a balanced life and, thereby, more time for making babies (in theory). Of course, in Japan, both men and women would probably be subjected to overwork, thereby destroying this theory.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

The birth rate is recovering! Not quite,as japanese women start to go out to work as wanted,they are more likely to reduce the size of their family.Not have more.If we look at most highly develop countries,their population is falling.(excluding immigration). Gerard. The UK system is not free,it is only free at the point of delivery,and it is payed by taxation which is way higher than japan,and prescriptions aren't free. ( some medicines are free in japan) UK VAT is 18% compared to japans 10% UK tax is also higher compared to japan. Even in the UK people can't afford kids so health care isn't the main problem.If anything the JP system gives you more choice and flexibility than the UK NHS ever will. Furthermore people who do have kids are also being asked to look after their parents,which can be a blessing or a financial curse,and that may not even be their own parents but the parents in law.So it certainly isn't easy. There isn't a way to fix this without immigration or getting men and women to have more time off work,to have kids,which result in less money for the family to spend on goods for the kids, and as we get richer and more in debt, the government will want us to spend more, so they can get the revenue,but at the same time they will tell is to save more cause they they can't afford the pensions. Since our life expectancy and health is better than say a third world country, we don't want three or fours kids when two will suffice and we can give them that nice shiny 3DS,nice car and trips to disney or USJ and send them to Uni. Sadly we can't have both,the average women working full time and popping out kids, men staying at home and earning more money.Somethings got to give and it looks like we want smaller families and a better life. Childbirth is basically free here and if you can't afford it you go to the ward office and they can pay the clinic direct.So it isn't money that stops women having kids.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

At least the next 5 years?...

I think the explanation lies in the fact that, as mentioned in earlier comments, the birthrate in Japan has actually been increasing rather than decreasing for the past few years. Though still below replacement levels, we`ll probably reach a point in the next few years where one cohort entering elementary school will be larger than the one which preceded it (though still low by historical standards).

In other words, the title of the article is factually misleading.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Everyone is focussing on the wrong there here. Increasing the birth rate suddenly is not a good idea. You will just increase the number of economically dependent in Japan. That means taxpayer money going into healthcare for both children and the retired. This only increases the burden for those of working age for at least 15-20 years.

The main focus right now must be to encourage skilled foreign workers to come to Japan. How many foreigners will come when the tax sky rockets and there are many more appealing options around Asia and the world. Japanese people are very loyal to their country and won't leave to find better places to live. But how many parents would want their children to grow up in increasingly difficult economic situations. If not now, but in the near future young Japanese students will encouraged to find a better life overseas. These factors will increase the burden dramatically.

Unfortunately, the Japanese government doesn't want to upset their 'older' voters, who are the majority. Therefore, most of the government policies we see are short-term solutions which cater for the population that votes. You could say the younger generations should vote more, but they are both outnumbered and uninformed when it comes to politics in Japan.

When there is an imbalance to the population structure of a country, always look at the working age first. They're the ones that need to make money to help support those who are unable to work. Create a balance from that, and the country will become a more wonderful place to work, live, raise children and retire.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

The birthrate is low, I am not convinced its recovering, wouldnt be surprised the numbers are being manipulated............

I predict the birthrate will start dropping once more people do the math & look at the reality of living in Japan, doesn't bode well for the birthrate!

Bottom line is LIFE suck for most here, there is NO TIME to have a life with family & kids here! That is the real problem & is never addressed.

As I keep harping unless Japan re-invents itself it will only get worse & the Japanese are a fatalistic bunch!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Aaaaargh! I never said Abenomics was to blame. I said that the declining birthrate and Abe's desire to get women back into the workforce are gonna cause a failure of Abenomics. Japan needs more babies, but it also needs more workers. There is no way to achieve both without increasing child care and family subsidies.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

Look at yourself;a life long slave to Govt. and big business. Is this what you would want for some poor soul you bring into this prison? A life of hard work and aggravation is waiting. If you are married, just love each other for your lifetime. That is the greatest satisfaction that life offers. The only thing that will make people more valuable is to have fewer of them.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Yeah, everything started with the Koizumi reforms. American style competition in a country with kind of socialist style traditions. Companies were quick to switch to part time disposable workers instead of the life-long loyal employment.

I don't say there no need for change but it was too shocking for the mid and lower waged population.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The government consists of rich old geezers who have no idea what is like on the ground. They don't have a clue about why young people are not getting married and having kids. We will be gone in a century or two. We might as well our land to China.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Well its the year 2072.... and attendance at Japan's last elementary school has fallen to just 120 students... but on a brighter note, student traffic related accidents have fallen to an all time low. What a safe country we live in. In fact, now that Japan's overall population has dropped to 70 million, overall crime has come down by 40% over the last 50 years.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

How can it be blamed on Abenomics? 12 or 13 years ago,when people were deciding not to have another child in addition to the ones now entering junior high,who was Prime Minister?

so, in Japan it's the Prime Minister who thinks and instructs about the reproduction?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Aaaaargh! I never said Abenomics was to blame.

I'm sorry, I misunderstood what you were saying!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Also, has any study been done where WOMEN, working or not, have been asked why they do not have a second child? Most likely, the reason is the hospital and other medical costs from conception to delivery.

Or maybe they just don't want any more?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

There is too much people in Japan anyway, so it's good that population drops. I can't imagine more people on such small (isl)lands, more people=war, less people=peace. Also life is not only about making kids and family, there are tons of better thing to do and luckily people start to see it. Seeing every-day's news and looking around yourself make people think: "nah, this is definitely not a place for children".

0 ( +3 / -3 )

There is too much people in Japan anyway, so it's good that population drops. I can't imagine more people on such small (isl)lands, more people=war, less people=peace. Also life is not only about making kids and family, there are tons of better thing to do and luckily people start to see it. Seeing every-day's news and looking around yourself make people think: "nah, this is definitely not a place for children".

How do you figure that? There are Japanese people now than during World War Two, yet no war. Cleary your assertion is false.

Yes, perhaps Japan is overcrowded, but what Japan´s staggering national debt? Fewer people paying taxes in Japan makes it even more difficult to maintain social services etc.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

If there is a way to manage the aging population, would you want as many as now, if not more people in Japan?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

You know, silver lining and all... perhaps this will finally be the death knell to the waste of time that is Juku?

If almost everyone goes (like they do) it doesn't do anything to the bell curve of academic ability of the kids overall. It only serves to shift the whole thing over, making college/highschool/etc requirements artificially higher.

I know I'm reaching/searching for something positive in this situation...but I hope less kids could mean less demand at such places, which could lead to more reasonable entrance exams and more worthwhile things for children to do in their childhood.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

To repeat myself, welcome to Japan's highly urbanized society. In the countryside children are workers from an early age. In urban society children are expensive pets. In rural society the care and nurturing of children is communal. In urban the nuclear family is on its own. Urban society is hedonistic. There are lots of fun things to do and these are best done without children. In countryside you tell stories and listen to the crickets. This where the existence of children can be a source of fun, their use value as workers aside.

The urban couple has a choice. Have children and be miserable or be childless and have fun. It is happening in other urban societies. If it is extreme here it is because of the extreme stresses put on couples with children.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Paradoxically, Japan has one of the most advanced social safety nets in the world, yet such well-found system put huge strains on child birth directly and indirectly.

Rapid increase of senior population in Japan’s demographic puts huge financial burdens on young generations, as a result, they would have less means than previous generations in terms of raising a family. As this ferrous cycle keep feeding itself, the trend of low-birth rate may continue in Japan.

Unlike other European countries which bear similar low-birth issue, Japan faces a looming-large national defense problem. Here is the thing, with more elders who need resources for care and less available younger to join workforce and SDF, how Japan is able to support its gray population and fight a war with its neighbors? That is why J-govt needs to do something right now to increase birthrate or seek peace with its neighbors or both.

If in next 10 years Japan still can get its birthrate up, then it would reach a point of no return.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

There is a direct link between the number of babies born in Japan and the number of times couples engage in intercourse; shockingly low.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

What is happening in Japan is the natural result of becoming a mature industrialized country with outdated socialist welfare policies. People living in modern economies do not have many children because their wealth gives them choices that they didn't have when predominately agrarian/smaller businesses dominated. But smaller families combined with a more mobile lifestyle means that there are many more elderly and disabled that families can no longer care and provide for as they did in the past. So societies decide to push that responsibility over to government. Well, that is unsustainable in the long run because there as still fewer younger people working and paying taxes to support that system too.

More wealth and more choices is great but there is a downside - and that is that more resources get directed towards personal wants (as opposed to family needs). Government cannot make up for this without causing growth to stagnate resulting in a decline in the living standards that people have become accustomed to. This is occurring in modern economies all over the world. It's just happening faster in Japan because of it's strict immigration policies.

There is a serious tradeoff that most occur. People must either accept lover government welfare spending or accept more unemployment and a lower overall standard of living. The Japanese people will not begin having babies at replacement rate again until their standard of living declines to where their choices become constricted. It's human nature that is driving this.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Great 100% attendance up. These kids must never get colds... Oh wait... it is Japan. People go to work and school while their sick all the time. Cold season in Japan can be quite devastating.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

For the people who think this is great news. Who is going to be taking care of the ojiisans and obaasans? Robots are not working so far. You have to somehow get past this 40 year period that these people will presumably still be alive...

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Honestly, and I mean this in the best possible way.: I am constantly impressing upon my daughters that they by any means do not have to settle in this country. If they choose to, I will support them...but it is certainly not their "duty" to live and work here by any stretch of the imagination. Honestly, I hope they choose to live somewhere that women can expect job opportunities similar to men.

My point being, even IF Japanese start making tons of babies this instant and IF they somehow allowed more foreigners to live and work here, there is NO guarantee that any of their kids are going to want to put up with the BS that they are somehow expected to shoulder.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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