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No. of children in Japan falls for 37th year to new record low

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A pledge? That's a death nail when Abe makes it.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

efforts by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's administration to combat the long-running low birthrate challenge are still wanting.

No sweat....another Shinzo soundbite promise to fix this with " maximum effort " coming up.....but first he must " fix" the constitution of course. Yep, ...priorities.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

Part time jobs with no security, low wages, high prices- what do you expect.

18 ( +19 / -1 )

This is one problem that doesn't need fixing. It's basically "have more babies, so they will grow up to give most of their wages to us government folk, so we can keep living high." Most people seem to believe the lie. But, since they are not having babies, maybe they actually don't.

1 ( +9 / -8 )

The number of children, including foreigners, 

Once again, "foreigners".....why? Are you trying to say foreign residents, or children of foreign residents? What percentage of "children" are they, and why are they included under this blanket statement?

Me gets the feeling that this "number" is the number of babies born and reported by hospitals and clinics yearly, and there are "foreigners" who have their babies here, but they don'T live here either, most do, but not all.

SO a better definition/better reporting is required!

4 ( +10 / -6 )

In promising to beef up he means ‘promise to keep promising.’ The old guard that is Abe’s base want women back in the home and traditional roles. So this is pure double speak, hence the lackluster progress. Meanwhile the demographic cliff looms.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

@commanteer "have more babies, so they will grow up to give most of their wages to us government folk, so we can keep living high."

Yes, exactly.

We need sensible policies that focus on quality of life - not simply focussing on supporting the destructive GDP-based treadmill.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

When Japan was poor, we had many children. While ago, a large population with many children was a sign of poor countries. But today, a large populated countries with many children are promised for future economical successes. Time changes.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

When Japan was poor, we had many children. While ago, a large population with many children was a sign of poor countries. But today, a large populated countries with many children are promised for future economical successes. Time changes.

A country with an imbalance in population is the problem. Look at the current status of many countries with large underage populations, it's nothing like what you are thinking here.

I think you misunderstand the problem, "many children" is not going to make things better here, there needs to be a better balance between ALL age groups. As Japan's elderly population keeps growing, and less children are born, it places a serious strain on the government to continue funding social services as the number of taxpayers continue to decrease.

14 ( +15 / -1 )

By gender, there were 7.95 million boys and 7.58 million girls, the ministry said.

That's like 400 thousands unmarried Japanese guys in future.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Don't think it's 'fixable' tbh. I know plenty of ppl, even/especially from kid-friendly countries, who simply do not want to have kids. They're well-educated, on good $, in long-term relationships yet simply do not want kids nor feel guilty about it.

Perhaps we have to learn to live with a declining population even if that means scaling down our ambitions, materialistic aspirations and goals etc. Am all for it.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

So as the population decreases can we look forward to a decrease in Politicians? Or will we have 1 politician representative for 100 people.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

if they want more children big things will have to change.

People had had kids in Japan in the days when everyone had jobs, wages would increase the older you got and divorce was rare.

Now?

wages aren’t guaranteed and many people are on contracts or with lower wages.

But it still most women are looking to marry a man with higher income than herself and want the option to stop working after marriage/childbirth or to be part-time.

So still (yes there are exceptions) but it’s still considered normal for the mans income to cover everything and with sports, hobbies, music lessons, possibly private schools etc - it’s expensive to have kids.

Now combine that that with the increase in divorce. Now add to that the scary statistic that 70% of parents don’t see their children after divorce and those who do will usually be granted three hours a month, getting married and having children is an extremely expensive risky undertaking.

If you’re a man who hears women complaining that her husband doesn’t earn enough, is useless, or hear men complaining or in depression that they can’t see their children even though they pay child support, marriage starts to be a scary thing.

Yes there arr happy couples and families, but talking about building more day care centers and an hour extra time off here and there is not addressing many of the huge issues.

Its a better option for many men to just stay single.

Not many people can convince men in their 20s and 30s of the joys of marriage and family in Tokyo.

if people saw that having kids was a great thing... they’d be having them.

If having kids kids seemed to be Shiawase then the richer people wouldn’t stop at one or two either. Maybe politicians on great incomes could have 3 or 4 or 5 and lead the way.

17 ( +17 / -0 )

Abe has pledged to tackle the nation's declining and aging population by implementing measures to promote women's empowerment in society and beef up support for child-rearing by increasing the number of daycare facilities. But his efforts have yet to bear fruit.

Have yet to bear fruit? Bwahahaha! Considering he hasn't actually 'done' anything about it there should be no surprise there is no change. He's the lip-service king!

However, I'm not sure that women's empowerment in society is the main problem behind the declining birthrate. This is more of a social problem. Women are preferring to take a career than a man-child husband. And, the man-children are too busy with their manga, video games and online fantasy girlfriends to actually get out there and meet a woman. Around one-third of Japanese women in their 30's are single by choice. For some it is career. For others it is because of a lack of men worth marrying. There was a survey done a few months ago and most women in their 30's declared relationships to be too much of a hassle. There is the major reason for a declining birthrate.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

With so many more guys than gals being born we are gonna need a more flexible idea of marriage including two husbands sharing one wife.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

If you want more babies, maybe you should do something to offset the increasing cost of raising them.

5 ( +10 / -5 )

Among Japan's 47 prefectures, Tokyo was the only one that had more children than the previous year...

I have identified the one prefecture I won't be moving to any time soon.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

"By gender, there were 7.95 million boys and 7.58 million girls, the ministry said."

"With so many more guys than gals being born we are gonna need a more flexible idea of marriage including two husbands sharing one wife."

God, you guys know nothing about demographics. It is true that more boys were born than girls. This is true with all countries. However, more boys die before they reach their 18th birthday than girls. So, by the time this cohort reaches their 18th birthday, girls will be in the slight majority, which mirrors the overall population of Japan. The population of Japan is 51% female and 49% male.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

I have decided no kidz for me.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Don't think it's 'fixable' tbh. I know plenty of ppl, even/especially from kid-friendly countries, who simply do not want to have kids. They're well-educated, on good $, in long-term relationships yet simply do not want kids nor feel guilty about it.

If you want more babies, maybe you should do something to offset the increasing cost of raising them.

I think the economics of it is one issue and I think socialization is the other issue which we don't talk about.

Its about learning and psychology.

If the potential parents of tomorrow were raised in one child households, in families with a limited number of extended relations (say cousins etc) and they didn't spend a whole lot of time around kids and babies when they were growing up, I think it is far less likely they will want to become parents. That's why its a slippery slope in Japans case now. A lot of potential parents these days have less exposure to young kids and babies in general, less exposure to other parents raising young kids which means you can't learn from your peers, it means you don't get to develop that patience that is required to have kids either because you have spent no time around them. And what does that lead too? Fear. Fear that you can't or won't be a good parent because you lack an overall experience. That is something that needs to be talked about.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I asked a group of young single Japanese women why they thought the number of children in Japan was decreasing and they basically told me:

"Who wants to raise a bunch of kids in a cramped condominium?"

14 ( +15 / -1 )

Part time jobs with no security, low wages, high prices- what do you expect. but  at the end of last year, the median net financial wealth — all financial assets minus liabilities — for households in Japan stood at $96,000. In the United States, the same number was a mere $50,000.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

Maybe Japanese men need to stop working and socialising late and start having sex!

3 ( +6 / -3 )

I asked a group of young single Japanese women why they thought the number of children in Japan was decreasing and they basically told me: 

"Who wants to raise a bunch of kids in a cramped condominium?"

Beside that, for couple with kids will get less option for apartment to choose from, compared for single or couple without kids.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I keep having kids in this country, why don't the rest of you do your part? lol

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Make Love Not War! Seriously, we need more babies.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Looking for an apartment in Tokyo recently and it became apparent to me why people are not having children. Most places are tiny that not even two people can live in. A family? You would need to pay an insane amount of money to get something big enough. Plus contract jobs still the norm with no security and no benefits. Who wants to make kids with conditions like these?

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Doesnt keep Abe in power so it is all lip service to the problem.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

This is one problem that doesn't need fixing. It's basically "have more babies, so they will grow up to give most of their wages to us government folk, so we can keep living high." Most people seem to believe the lie. But, since they are not having babies, maybe they actually don't.

Commanter,

Every time this topic comes up you always trot out this overly simplistic tidbit.

You need to look at the overall population distribution, population pyramid, Japans is INVERTING extremely quickly, as the population gets older it is(is already actually) putting a HUGE strain on the nations finances & social systems.

Whether Japan can survive this without imploding economically is a HUGE issue!

Also the decline is increasing over time, so even if young adults start having 3-4kids per family the population will STILL be in decline.

So will Japan's population ever stabilize at a lower level.......time will tell but is DOESNT look good at all.

Again population decrease isn't necessarily a problem, it is HOW it is decreasing & Japans is decreasing in such a why it will be lucky to come the other end as a 3rd world country at this pace sadly.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

People should not look to the government to increase the birth rate. The birth rate always declines for countries that go from agrarian, largely poor conditions to first world and urban within a few generations. Japan has a huge national debt and an ever increasing number of people dependent on the government. Add in expections for a comfortable standard of living and marriage and children get squeezed out of the equation. Japan’s birth rate will only go up after these conditions change - when living standards decline significantly and poverty increases substantially- as it surely will.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I'm with gaijinpapa, it is the family model/gender relations that are the problem in Japan.

In every country in the world, having kids requires money and requires sacrifice. In Japan, the level of this sacrifice is far too great. You go from being a slave to your company to both a slave to your company and to your kids' schools and activities. Just as Japan doesn't do work-life balance, it doesn't do parenting-life balance either. As the number of kids continues to fall, this just means there are fewer parents to go to the youchien and cut out bell marks from cookie packets or go around their neighbourhood collecting tin cans, activities which rob you of your weekend but raise pitiful sums of money per adult hour. Apparently Tokyo now has companies offering stooges who will go to PTA meetings during office hours so that parents don't have to. Tokyo could build more daycares, but they are still going to ask parents to do lots of chores and come in during work for "sankanbi" or "kondankai" or "kamameshikai" some other BS that looks like it was designed to fill a hole in a bored housewife's day.

Throw the way Japan handles divorce into the equation and you might be better off just forgetting about kids and spend all your money on consumption-driven hobbies (travel, motorbike, skiing, mountain bike, scuba, etc.) that will make you look cool on Facebook. Again, as gaijinpapa says "if people saw that having kids was a great thing... they’d be having them." Make raising kids more fun and less drudge and people will be more willing to have them. I am convinced of that too.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

 Fear. Fear that you can't or won't be a good parent because you lack an overall experience. That is something that needs to be talked about.

I think there's a bit of truth in that, Matt.

Also think that more ppl have realised they didn't 'need' kids to be happy and lead a fulfilling life. There are simply more epicureans around these days, more ppl who cherish their freedom (sexual, social, financial) and being able to resign from their job, travel, do whatever they want if they feel like it. Can't tell you how many times I have heard mums and dads (mates, colleagues, clients etc) say to me they felt 'trapped' because of family responsibilities, others that parenthood brought out the worst in them (certainly agree with that one!). Being a parent is just not for everyone and that's fine.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

The people, and the government, need to re-orient themselves to lives that are about more fulfilling, more than just work and productivity - the age of Japan, Inc has passed, and a nation in demographic decline facing a labor shortage is not going to reclaim its past economic glory - the country has yet to even contemplate the human cost it paid for that brief time in the sun back in the late '80's. If Japan had about half the population it currently has, it would be a much better, cheaper place to live. When the current generation of 70-90+ finally goes the way of the dinosaur, maybe it will be possible to reconsider priorities, instead of handwringing over something that is never going to change. Has anyone ever stopped to ask the question why Japan needs so many more people than its land and infrastructure can support, other than to pay forever into a collapsing social welfare system?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Maybe Japanese men need to stop working and socialising late and start having sex!

Many of them do have sex. It’s just not with their partners and not with the aim of procreating.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

This is a good thing. Never-ending growth is unsustainable.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Really? Then please explain the following stats:

Population of Germany, bit over 82 million, Age structure;

https://www.indexmundi.com/germany/age_structure.html

Population of Singapore, around 5.6 million, Age structure;

https://www.indexmundi.com/singapore/age_structure.html

Population of Italy, around 60 million, Age structure;

https://www.indexmundi.com/italy/age_structure.html

Population of Japan, 127 Million, Age Structure;

https://www.indexmundi.com/japan/age_structure.html

Statistics can be made into whatever you want, your "number" may be on target but look at the facts, the age structure for all those countries you named are pretty much balanced, with the glaring exception of....

Japan!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

In the States, 2 of my 3 younger brothers are single and happy. They easily find women to be with. My youngest brother also married like me seems miserable and has no sex life for 2 years after his daughter was born. I am also close to throwing in the towel and enjoying my life more. The truth is people in developed countries have great opportunities besides marriage and kids.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Part time jobs with no security, low wages, high prices- what do you expect. but at the end of last year, the median net financial wealth — all financial assets minus liabilities — for households in Japan stood at $96,000. In the United States, the same number was a mere $50,000.

Not exactly rocket science , the households with the asset rich 60 plus year olds skew ths statistics towards a higher medium. The young and middle age households are doing it ( mainly ) tough..especially ones with kids.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Japan has the best health care is the world,

According to whom? Japan has a good health care system but I’ve yet to see any organisation which regards it as the best.

I may have missed it.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

gaijinpapaToday 09:08 am JST

if they want more children big things will have to change.

People had had kids in Japan in the days when everyone had jobs, wages would increase the older you got and divorce was rare.

Now?

wages aren’t guaranteed and many people are on contracts or with lower wages.

But it still most women are looking to marry a man with higher income than herself and want the option to stop working after marriage/childbirth or to be part-time.

So still (yes there are exceptions) but it’s still considered normal for the mans income to cover everything and with sports, hobbies, music lessons, possibly private schools etc - it’s expensive to have kids.

Its expensive to have kids and expensive to be married to Japanese women, on my last flight into Tokyo there were plenty of Japanese women and kids flying home after their last holiday - so where is the father/husband working 100 hr weeks so everyone else can enjoy it.

Now combine that that with the increase in divorce. Now add to that the scary statistic that 70% of parents don’t see their children after divorce and those who do will usually be granted three hours a month, getting married and having children is an extremely expensive risky undertaking.

If you’re a man who hears women complaining that her husband doesn’t earn enough, is useless, or hear men complaining or in depression that they can’t see their children even though they pay child support, marriage starts to be a scary thing.

Well that puts an end to the rumour that Japan is a patriarchal society

Yes there are happy couples and families, but talking about building more day care centers and an hour extra time off here and there is not addressing many of the huge issues.

Its a better option for many men to just stay single.

Not many people can convince men in their 20s and 30s of the joys of marriage and family in Tokyo.

So it seems Japanese men are thinking the same as Western men why get married only to find an ungrateful wife who can and will walk out the door if she thinks there is a better deal around the corner.

if people saw that having kids was a great thing... they’d be having them.

If having kids kids seemed to be Shiawase then the richer people wouldn’t stop at one or two either. Maybe politicians on great incomes could have 3 or 4 or 5 and lead the way.

Politicians love telling the voters how to behave but never seem to deliver the goods themselves first.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The Japanese healthcare system is a shining example of strength and resilience

Yes, it’s very good but it doesn’t answer my question.

Now can you tell me which organization says it’s the best?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Japan's future looks bleak, so why bring Kids into this World when it's hard enough supporting yourself.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Well I could be wrong but many people are choosing to remain single because being married is too damn expensive and raising kids when you need to work yourself to death is nearly impossible...

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Women can get all for "free" what they need (protection, birth control, leisure, money) with no return, in particular sex as you know Japanese ladies turn cold after having babies. Worse, if divorcing even at fault, they get benefits (children control, father's income share, financial support from government...)

No social praise of parents, and worse father is the loser who is only entitled to work.

Financial and social cost to parents

This is just a picture.

I don't want to die alone so I got married and got kids. I am a no brainer.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@econstats

Can you tell me about the organization which ranks Japanese healthcare system as the best in the world?

I just can’t find it.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

That won't be necessary, since that is taking the discussion off topic. All readers, please back on topic please.

Its really pretty simple. Life costs more these days. Wages staying the same, cost of life going up.

Even being a DINK if barely enough to live a financially happy life.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Commanter, Every time this topic comes up you always trot out this overly simplistic tidbit.

And every time you miss the point, and go on to fret how temporary budget shortfalls are worse than total eco-destruction that will cause a mass (and most likely traumatic) die-off of humanity. We can either control our population, or the forces of nature and society will do it for us, and much less gently.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

econstats & marcelito

Part time jobs with no security, low wages, high prices- what do you expect. but at the end of last year, the median net financial wealth — all financial assets minus liabilities — for households in Japan stood at $96,000. In the United States, the same number was a mere $50,000.

Not exactly rocket science , the households with the asset rich 60 plus year olds skew ths statistics towards a higher medium. The young and middle age households are doing it ( mainly ) tough..especially ones with kids.

Without knowing the stats, brought here by econstats, I always had the impression that money to afford a kid wasn't really the problem in Japan.

What marcelino states is also true in the West by the way so there must be another reason besides the ones mentioned here.

Couldn't there be, for the last 2 generations, some unwritten refusal or 'strike' going on among women due to their social position in this developed nation? :)

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

For the last 30 years buying a home and making a profit on it once you sell it is non-existant. You purchase a new home and watch its value drop... plain and simple. For the last 30 years wages have gone sideways and in some sectors wages have actually dropped. For the last 30 years the cost of raising a child has increased. For the last 30 years the number of women in the workforce has increase leaving them little time to take care of children. So what went wrong? This is what I think went wrong. When the bubble collapsed Japan didn't act quickly and they fostered business along when they should have bankrupted those that were out of cash. Basically the government pushed the banks to nurse bankrupted people and businesses when they should have put them up for sale at a bid discount. Japan is screwed because of the collusion between govt and business. Japan continually regulates its markets and stifles real innovation. If people had the feeling that they would be better off in 10 to 20 years they would probably have kids. If people actually got paid based on how hard they work and their aptitude... then yes they'd have kids. I know a lot of Japanese.... hard working and bright that can barely get by because wages are crap and the only way to make what they're worth would be to leave the country but no one wants to leave because they are brainwashed into thinking Japan is the best.... just like American's think they're number 1. Japan needs to deregulate and foster new businesses not stifle them.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

"Couldn't there be, for the last 2 generations, some unwritten refusal or 'strike' going on among women due to their social position in this developed nation?"

Probably not since Germany has total fertility rate of 1.4 which is the same as Japan's (1.4). Unless you are going to say Germany women are on strike as well.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Unfortunate that the birthrate in Japan continues to drop as the number of elderly over 60 increases. The Japanese people aren't replacing themselves for the future. Well, what's the solution? Build a generation of androids to replace people who are dying?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Probably not since Germany has total fertility rate of 1.4 which is the same as Japan's (1.4). Unless you are going to say Germany women are on strike as well.

I'm not saying anything, just suggesting, a subtle difference, Mr / Ms stats.

I've seen the word 'strike' before on this forum in connection with birth rates so I was fishing for some 'expat expertise' on the psyche of the Japanese woman :)

Here an update for the German figures:

http://www.dw.com/en/germanys-fertility-rate-hits-43-year-high/a-43163756

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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