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Number of children in Japan falls to new low

90 Comments

The number of children in Japan has fallen to a new low, the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry said Monday. As of April 1, there were an estimated 16.17 million children aged 15 and under, down 160,000 from a year earlier.

It was the 34th straight annual decline and the lowest level since records began in 1950, according to the ministry.

The ministry released the figures ahead of Children's Day on Tuesday.

Children accounted for 12.7% of the population, with 8.28 million boys and 7.88 million girls, the ministry said.

Tokyo was the only prefecture to register an increase in the number of children -- up by 14,000, the ministry said.

Of major countries with a population of at least 40 million, Japan had the lowest ratio of children to the total population -- compared with 19.5% for the United States and 16.4% for China.

© Japan Today/AFP

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Not much help coming from the govt. even though lots of talk about improving the situation.

There's no way we can afford a third a kid even if we wanted one.

18 ( +18 / -0 )

Stop allowing corporations/organizations to treat people like robots and give people time off to enjoy life and that would be a start.

Why would I want to have children when I'd never be home to see/raise them? My wife and I don't have enough time for each other as it is now and the government wants us to have kids to take away more time? Yeah, right!

26 ( +28 / -2 )

We would love more kids but are struggling to survive on our income.

24 ( +25 / -1 )

Many people want better child-care facilities and other government policies that will encourage couples to raise children.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

The "Trainee Program" should be converted to an immigration program. There is clearly lots of work available for these people, and already great pressure to increase the numbers. If they are allowed to immigrate and bring spouses they will soon raise the birth rate.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

The government is focused on making life comfortable for the older Japanese who have run the country into the ground. Younger people are just here to work for peanuts and pay for the comfort of old folks. Children distract from that prime concern. Sad but true.

13 ( +15 / -2 )

While the corporate overlords seek servants not employees nothing is going to change anytime soon. I do wonder if it is too late to fix the child ratio. To boost more would require a big change in mindset in both corporate and private life. As more people get use to the "freedoms" being child free entails I suspect less people would willingness to have children. Changing the subject slightly how does China ,a country with one child policy, have a higher child percentage than Japan. Maybe it's to do with the life expectancy in China.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

This problem is more serious than you may think. Less children means a smaller workforce in the future, which has repercussions of its own. Smaller workforce also means less people paying taxes to support those who are older and or retired, and fewer people to care for the increasing aged population.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

This is a an important issue I have to address how many times Japan Today has to recycling post about Japan Childreen birth rate fall.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

A new record low will be set every year from now on. The last Japanese child is expected to be born in the year 3011.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2143748/Falling-birth-rates-mean-Japan-wont-children-15-3011-current-trend-continues.html

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Tokyo was the only prefecture to register an increase in the number of children—up by 14,000, the ministry said.

Put this paragraph all by it's lonesome to make a point about what? Give props where props are due Fukuoka and Okinawa are unchanged and Okinawa has the highest ratio of the population being "children" at 17.5%

Tokyo is just a megalopolis and that is one place that does not need any more people let alone kids, and how much does anyone want to bet that the increase is due to folks moving to Tokyo from somewhere else too.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The other day, I talked with a lady who came to Japan from Thailand decades ago marrying to a Japanese gentleman. She works as a cleaning lady of our danchi. I asked her which country is easier to live - Japan or Thailand? She asnwered Thailand. She said in Japan if people don't have money, they cannot continue living from tomorrow. Life is hard here. The Japanese government knowing about declining population did not take effective measures for long. In my danchi, I know some young couples who have three to four children. They are living in a small 2DK rooms. Yet, they have to pay 65,000 yen per month from their small income. They always have troubles with the people living directly under their rooms because of noises children make. I always think if the government thinks seriously about the declining population, they should encourage the danchi to give two houses to people like them removing walls of the next house. The rent should be the same or free, of course.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

I love Japan but one big flaw that I encountered there is that people put way way to much attention in work, work is important, but it's not healthy to put work as the no 1 priority in your, life, if you ask me, the no 1 priority is family, family comes first, you live your live to be happy, you work to support your family and yourself, you don't live to work.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

My wife and I, happily married for a decade and both 40 (about), have after a long time period of thought, firmly decided not to have children. Again, very happy with this decision.

The cost, the institutional lack of proper day care and lengthy maternity leave, the school system which would dominate family life are the biggest factors for her. My biggest concern is whatever she feels the need to do, thus, no kids.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Not much help coming from the govt. even though lots of talk about improving the situation

How is it the governments fault if young people won't have kids - wasn't a problem in the 70's.

The "Trainee Program" should be converted to an immigration program

Immigration is not the answer, once that door is open you can't close it - look at how the UK is now, its a mess

-9 ( +5 / -13 )

13% of Japan's population is 15 and under. With deficits still increasing who's going to pay the bills in the future.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

on the other hand abe sending women to the work field to cope with shortage of labour

1 ( +1 / -0 )

There will be a time of difficulty when the older population is relying on the younger population to support them, but as the older generation dies off, things will become more relaxed for the smaller younger generation, as they will have more employment opportunities, and with less people competing for resources, there will be more resources per person. When this happens, people will start to have more babies and we will see a flow in the opposite direction.

This is the natural order of things. We had too many kids, which created the population explosion that is now turning into the older generation. It's unsustainable, and so people naturally stop having kids, as they cannot afford them. When they can afford them again, they will start having kids again. It's not like the old people are going to live forever.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Really, most people these days are just too busy worrying about themselves.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

It seems that the more prosperous a country becomes the more apt they are to face this problem of a falling birthrate. There are many 'benefits" to not having kids - more time, freedom, money, less headaches, etc., but I'm afraid that the root reasons for choosing not to have kids is too often connected with selfishness. I do realize that raising kids in Japan is different than having them in say, America, for instance. Some are simply afraid to have kids. They lack confidence in how to raise kids and are fearful of an unhappy family life. I can't judge any particular person's motives, but at least for some, it seems they feel the cost of having children in terms of time, energy, sacrifice, and money outweighs the blessing of children. I'm sure there are lots of other reasons couples specifically choose not to have kids, but my guess would be that self-centered reasons enter into it more often than not.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Here is a solution not too not enough kids but too many idle older people. Abolish forced retirement and outlaw age discrimination. Let the oldies work. That will take care of the labor shortage to a great extent.

As for making more kids, I don't have any suggestions. We're double income, no kids and life is great.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I'll come back and bring my 2 kids if Japan makes it worth my time. It's too expensive to own a home or feed a famiily there

6 ( +7 / -1 )

We would love to have another kid but since we don't have any prospects for making more money, it's just not going to happen. Most families I know feel the same.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Instead of spending tax money on "stimulating" the economy with his pork construction projects, Abe might consider making it viable for people here to have children, e.g. by subsidising free child care for working mothers. As it is, having children is ruinously expensive here, so couples for the proverbial chihuahua.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

There will be a time of difficulty when the older population is relying on the younger population to support them, but as the older generation dies off, things will become more relaxed for the smaller younger generation, as they will have more employment opportunities, and with less people competing for resources, there will be more resources per person. When this happens, people will start to have more babies and we will see a flow in the opposite direction.

Sorry, but this is not true. Unless there is an immense reduction in public sector overhead, they are going to see their burden steadily increase as the number of unproductive elderly increase. There will not be any reduction in public sector spending for many decades at least, as the number of people dependent on pensions and healthcare increases. They well see fewer and fewer job opportunities as the number of consumers decreases, they will see lower wages as well. We have already been seeing the lower wage half of the problem over the past several years. This "time of difficulty" you mention will last for decades, it has already started, and it will only get worse.

There are already 8 million vacant homes in Japan, plus millions of vacant stores, factories, and shops. A large percentage of Japan's small amount of farm land is uncultivated. These are places were people used to live and work. By the middle of the century, nearly 40% of Japan will be a ghost town. As an investor, I constantly receive notices for public auctions going on around Japan. At many of these auctions, no one shows up. There are hotels and resorts, sports facilities, schools, and other buildings empty and decaying. No one buys them, because there are no customers who will frequent them. The cost to repair them or tear them down is too high, so they just slowly rot away. And every year the list of auctions gets longer, and the selling prices get lower, for those places lucky enough to find buyers.

This decline in the population is the definitive symptom of a terminal disease in Japan's socio-economic structure. This decline is far worse than a 80% drop in the stock markets, or a hyper-inflative collapse in the yen, as the these other problems could be overcome rather quickly. For those who think that "nothing is wrong in Japan, things are not so bad", the news above should be a punch in the face. A rapid decline in a the population is nothing short of catastrophic to Japan as we know it.

Putting women to work will not help, it will only slightly delay the economic decline, while adding even further downward pressure on population, as working women have fewer children than women who stay at home. Japan will not open the doors to immigration, and even doing that would not solve the fundamental problems behind Japan's decline. The immigrants who come here will quickly find that they too can't earn enough to raise children either. And with Japan in decline, and other parts of Asia on the rise, there is no guarantee that immigrants will want to come to Japan in the future.

To increase the population, Japan needs to fundamentally change how things are run in the country. It needs to scrap the old protectionist policies which lock out competition, and drive up the cost of living. It needs adopt competitive business practices both domestically and internationally. It needs to get rid of the patriarchal system where old men run everything, and the younger generations are forced to wait until they become old men before they have a voice in society. In a society designed to benefit the old, it is no surprise that there are fewer and fewer young people.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

13% of Japan's population is 15 and under. With deficits still increasing who's going to pay the bills in the future.

Something the LDP and Abe don't think about or care about either obviously, and more people need to be making some noise about this too!

In my danchi, I know some young couples who have three to four children. They are living in a small 2DK rooms. Yet, they have to pay 65,000 yen per month from their small income.

If you actually live in a "danchi" they are typically managed by the local municipality or prefecture and are there for the lower income folks in society.

Down here the rent is based upon income for the entire household, no income, no rent. There is assistance available for families like that in the local city/town/village office.

It is also typically hard for foreigners to get into "danchi" as well, interesting that you live in one.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Having children was the best thing in my life. Even though the system here could have helped more I will never regret having them. Ten years of wonderful experiences. My wife already had two from her first marriage, so she has really done her bit.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Japan need think very well what he will doing if they dont right they will become one more Canada or Italy or US accepting refugees families working under table and living with welfare and food stamps and tax break for 21 years or even more, and in the end the TAXPAYERS will pay for everything like Italy, Canada and US. I could prefer Japanese do more entertaining and free tax refund money to have babies.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

And still, the waiting lists for kindergartens in Japan are super long.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

And still, the waiting lists for kindergartens in Japan are super long.

Kindergartens or do you mean pre-school? Kindergartens are typically together with the local elementary schools and they are required by law to provide space for all children eligible to go to school there.

However, seeing as how kindergarten is not a part of compulsory education many parents choose to send their children to private schools.

Also if you mean pre-school the municipal run pre-schools are also typically based upon family income, and need as well. For example a stay at home housewife (I know it's a job but for discussion purpose here) would be low on the priority list as they are expected to take care of their children. Single working parents are top of the list, and dual income families typically pay based upon income of the household.

There are private schools around but they are expensive, hence people getting on waiting lists.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I guess i will have to up my game.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

This decline in the population is the definitive symptom of a terminal disease in Japan's socio-economic structure.

Why am I not surprised to see the standard "Japan is a basket-case" line trotted out? Far too many people are in love with this myth that Japan's problems are all cultural and societal, and have formed some weird and deep emotional attachment to it. You can see the love for the myth everyday here on this site's message boards and all across the media. "Japan must change!", "Japan must reform","Japan must internationalize!", and all the other cliches that are pumped out by the self-styled "serious" people.

It's too bad for the true believers that all evidence and logic shows that something else is going on. Falling birthrates, in some cases lower than in Japan, and birthrates below replacements levels are common around the world now. Anybody is free to explain how Japan's "socio-economic structure" causes population decline in these countries. And as the article states, the decline in Japan has now reached 34 straight years. That's right, a trend that had been going one way suddenly turned and started going the other way. So which aspect of Japan's "socio-economic structure" changed in 1981 to create this downward trend? The education system? The corporate culture? Did people suddenly start staying at the office until insane hours? Nope, nothing changed, so the cause must be found elsewhere. What changed is the global economic and financial system, followed by insane credit bubbles to create the illusion of economic growth that the supposedly now fixed and improved global economy could no longer generate. Japan just created a faster, more insane bubble, but now is just paying the same price as is being paid everywhere else. That's is what happened, but of course believing the myths is much more comforting!

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

Yubaru:

" Kindergartens or do you mean pre-school? Kindergartens are typically together with the local elementary schools and they are required by law to provide space for all children eligible to go to school there. "

That is new to me and all the people in my neighbourhood in Tokyo. None of the local elementary schools has a kindergarten attached to it, and in order to get our kids into the local kindergarten, we had to jump all sorts of hoops and still pay a lot of money. Maybe you live in a wondrous part of Japan, where everything is different.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

That is new to me and all the people in my neighbourhood in Tokyo. None of the local elementary schools has a kindergarten attached to it, and in order to get our kids into the local kindergarten, we had to jump all sorts of hoops and still pay a lot of money. Maybe you live in a wondrous part of Japan, where everything is different.

My apologies, should have figured it was Tokyo.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

MizuameMay. 05, 2015 - 07:30AM JST The "Trainee Program" should be converted to an immigration program.

Why the "Trainee Program"? It is already slave-labour masquerading as "training". This type of immigration has never worked well. The Brazilian-Japanese were employed in low-level production jobs and then sent home when the Japanese economy declined, but not before their poor pay and living conditions reinforced Japanese bigots' sense of superiority and xenophobia.

No. Instead Japan should be aiming to attract working professionals. Whether they're young and unmarried, or middle-aged and married with children the result would be the same, a rapid and absolutely necessary increase to the Japanese professional workforce and an increase in tax revenue. Professionals would also bring new skills, new ideas and having to treat these people as equals would do the world of good for Japan's bigots.

If Japan suffers it will be purely self-inflicted as a result of their own insecurity and bigotry.

Moon1May. 05, 2015 - 08:17AM JST Immigration is not the answer, once that door is open you can't close it - look at how the UK is now, its a mess

... the mess in the UK is not the fault of immigrants. What messes there are in the UK are pretty much directly the fault of the UK government and a very small percentage of greedy individuals at the top of industry, none of whom are immigrants.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

I'm afraid that the root reasons for choosing not to have kids is too often connected with selfishness.

Selfishness is choosing yourself over another. You cannot choose yourself over someone who doesn't exist - it's impossible to choose them. Being selfish would be to have kids and not take care of them because you want to do your own thing. Choosing not to have kids isn't selfish, as there is no one to be selfish over.

Sorry, but this is not true. Unless there is an immense reduction in public sector overhead, they are going to see their burden steadily increase as the number of unproductive elderly increase.

So you think the elderly will live forever?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Stop making more hospitals and start making schools and daycare! There so many hospitals in Tokyo it's not funny.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Stop making more hospitals and start making schools and daycare! There so many hospitals in Tokyo it's not funny.

Private hospitals right? Someone has to take care of the elderly ($$$$$$ or should I say¥¥¥¥)

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

To me japanese people should work less and in a more inteligent way. Instead of working hard, they should think before doing things and be more eficient and effective. Forget processes and be dynamic.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

one can always adopt the honda asimo.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

there needs to be big tax breaks for families with children, not big J corporations. no kids no future income taxes

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I'm afraid that the root reasons for choosing not to have kids is too often connected with selfishness.

Sometimes, yes. More money, more time to yourself, more freedom.

Likewise one could say that having kids is also connected to selfishness. The desire to see yourself immortalized in your children, the desire to achieve the social status of a parent, or simply the desire to have unprotected sex.

I don't think that it is a useful direction to take on this topic.

What I would say is that both parents and the childless will benefit from the future labour of those children. You may choose not to have children, but someone's child will be taking care of you when you're 70 or 80 years old in a nursing home, and that child's future tax payments will be subsidising your pension, and that child's future work will support the society you live in.

Since the benefits of some people choosing to have children are spread evenly across society so the costs of children should also be subsidised by all society. For this reason I think that those childless individuals who argue that they shouldn't have to pay for other people's children are not thinking things through.

If childless people want to opt out of paying taxes towards social support for children then they should also be opted out of enjoying any benefits from those children in the future. Good luck surviving in a world where your only options are hospitals staffed by 80-year-old nurses, supermarkets with no goods on the shelves because they're not produced, delivered or stocked, and sitting alone in your apartment watching re-runs from shows made 40 years ago. It would be slow suicide.

Whether someone decides to have children or not is a personal choice. There should, however, be no choice about whether to support society's children. Unfortunately Abe and the LDP just haven't thought things through... which is pretty typical of their short-sighted policies.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

In response to this report we will no doubt see formation of a few panels / study groups etc. filled with old koomuin oyajis who after spending a great deal of time and taxpayer money will come up with the same recycled solutions that they have been proposing for at least a decade and which hadn't changed a thing. Meanwhile cost of living will continue rising ( thanks Abenomics ) and work / life balance will remain unchanged in majority of workplaces. And the pretend head scratching over why situation is not changing will continue.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

It's too bad for the true believers that all evidence and logic shows that something else is going on. Falling birthrates, in some cases lower than in Japan, and birthrates below replacements levels are common around the world now.

Guy -- really? Please provide hard statistics, not your usual meaningless generalizations, on any countries that have the imbalance Japan does -- with only 12.7% of the population under the age of 15, and 25.9%, or more than double, over the age of 65. As Wikipedia says:

The aging of Japan is thought to outweigh all other nations, as the country is purported to have the highest proportion of elderly citizens; 33.0% are above age 60, 25.9% are aged 65 or above, 12.5% aged 75 or above, as of September 2014.

So, please enlighten us non 'true believers" how this is NOT a societal or cutural problem as you state.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

I am here to help.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

This is big trouble for Japan's economic future. It will also have drastic effects on the education system. Many of the private high schools and colleges have lowered their entrance standards over the last decade in an attempt to get more students. While the amount of children is declining, the amount of no-hope punks coasting their way through schools with easy tests is increasing greatly. This will spell DOOM for the Japanese economy in the next ten years.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Let's not think in terms of quantity; let's think in terms of QUALITY.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Movieguy > Why would I want to have children when I'd never be home to see/raise them?

You want to be at home when your children are? I know some people who want the opposite.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The desire to see yourself immortalized in your children, the desire to achieve the social status of a parent, or simply the desire to have unprotected sex.

Boy you throw a loaded statement like this out here and then follow it up with the following:

I don't think that it is a useful direction to take on this topic

Guess what, non of what you said holds true for me nor my wife nor any of my friends, you casually use the word "desire" and that is off the mark.

We have 3 children, and we did not "desire" them for any of the things you wrote or you obviously "think", we had them out of love.

No need to get married if you plan on not having kids, really just the action of it is one's "desire" to show off to the world that they are a couple.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

How should the government spur married couples to reproduce?

1 Charge nothing for health care from families with children. 2 Make housing more affordable so that married couples can live in a real home instead of being crammed into a condo. 3 Student loans at zero % interest. The government should provide ways for couples so that they are able to send their children to any school or university which their children have the ability to enter.

They are just for starters, but these 3 points beat hands down what the Japanese government is doing now by simply throwing cash at anybody to have babies regardless of their age or whether they're married or single. Come to think about it, what the government's doing might even be anti-family. One thing that is for sure is that currently it's money poorly spent and wasted in all the wrong ways.

Think about it, right now young Japanese families with small children pay higher charges for health care than the elderly. Why?! The elderly aren't going to be reproducing children any time soon. Besides, for most of them a hospital/clinic is like a social club. Young families can't think like that, especially when it comes to daily childcare services.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I have kid was the best thing in my life happy with that!!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

My Japanies company fired me because I took 10 paid holidays in 8 months time to support my pregnant wife.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

... the mess in the UK is not the fault of immigrants. What messes there are in the UK are pretty much directly the fault of the UK government and a very small percentage of greedy individuals at the top of industry, none of whom are immigrants.

If you say so

-9 ( +2 / -11 )

The cost, the institutional lack of proper day care and lengthy maternity leave, the school system which would dominate family life are the biggest factors for her. My biggest concern is whatever she feels the need to do, thus, no kids.

When there's a way,there's a will.If childless by choice couples REALLY wanted a kid(s),they'd do it.The above reasons are just excuses.I'd rather read that you don't want because of the hassle of bringing up or you don't like kids.The usual complaints of the system are tiring and repetitive on this site.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Regarding health care and school matters, and even the birth of children, Japan should follow Germany's example. Japan's current system may be the reason why, if my girlfriend wants children in the future, it will have to be in Germany. It takes a lot to suppress the natural drive for reproduction. I really wish that Japan will become more humane in the future regarding this matter,

3 ( +3 / -0 )

YubaruMay. 05, 2015 - 01:15PM JST Boy you throw a loaded statement like this out here and then follow it up with the following:

And you completely ignore that it was a balancing statement in response to allegations that all people who don't want children are selfish.

I was just pointing out that there are two sides to the story and that therefore:

I don't think that it is a useful direction to take on this topic

And then you also completely missed the "one could say" (indicating a hypothetical position that the author does not necessarily agree with)

I would suggest a remedial reading class before you fly off the handle and completely misinterpret other people's comments.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Falling birthrates, in some cases lower than in Japan, and birthrates below replacements levels are common around the world now.

Actually, jerseyboy, this is true. Look at South korea for example. Their fertility rate (babies per woman) is even lower than Japan's. Japan is ahead but South korea is following the same path, and at a faster rate.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Please provide hard statistics, not your usual meaningless generalizations, on any countries that have the imbalance Japan does

Um, never said any countries have the same imbalance as Japan does. I said the same demographic trends that were first seen in Japan and which have led to that imbalance are now being played out in virtually all industrialized countries. Obviously, the place where the trend started first will be more imbalanced. Equally obviously, demographic downward trends in other countries have nothing to do with perceived flaws in Japanese culture and society, and if they are moving all in the same direction then the causes are not country-specific either. It's economic not cultural forces at work, and Japan is just the canary in the coal mine.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

I'm ok with population drop. I hope the rest of the world follows Japan in that respect. More people didn't bring peace to nature.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Companies should care about workers rather than their own interests. If workers have more time to kids and wife, all of them will be happy and problem with stress will be less than today. This is one of the problem. Another problem rely on scholl education where they allow bullying problems.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

@ WilliB

Do you seriously suggest that as a model for Japan?

You provided a very narrow and outdated view of immigration in the UK by focusing only on Muslims. People living in the UK who were born in Pakistan and Bangladesh number about the same as Polish-born immigrants. The top countries of birth of immigrants are, in order, India, Poland, Pakistan, Ireland, Germany, Bangladesh, USA.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Gokai is totally gay so this does not concern me directly, but my straight friends basically do not get married or have children because they do not feel stability or security to do so. They don't know if they will have a job tomorrow (even though like gokai, they are professionals). We don't have lifetime employment anymore even with the worker shortage. The rich rich politicians like Abe don't have a clue about this. They say let's raise the consumption tax by 3%, that's nothing! Yeah, for filthy rich politicians it is nothing. Not for an ordinary worker. Politicians have doomed Japan.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Each workplace or association of workplaces should provide free childcare. As far as immigration goes, the best way would be to ensure imigrant candidates have at least a level 3 JLPT (language) skill and are willing to embrace the culture. candidates must be willing to embrace shinto to some degree (culturally at least), participate in festivals, and live in areas most needed. They would be given a sponsor that acts like a big brother or sister to help them integrate. Lastly, they must swear an oath to preserve the japanese constitution and hold the laws of the nation above any religious laws.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

It's too bad for the true believers that all evidence and logic shows that something else is going on. Falling birthrates, in some cases lower than in Japan, and birthrates below replacements levels are common around the world now.

Do you really not comprehend the seriousness of this situation? Really? 19 of the 20 G20 nations have below-replacement birthrates, but for the most part, these nations are still seeing populations increase, even before taking immigration into account. Japan's population is in free-fall, and of course Japan strictly limits immigration. In addition to this, no other developed nation has close to the same level of public sector debt as Japan. With population and consumption both set to decrease by one-third by the middle of the century, how will Japan be able to service it's debts?

Companies should care about workers rather than their own interests. If workers have more time to kids and wife, all of them will be happy and problem with stress will be less than today. This is one of the problem. Another problem rely on scholl education where they allow bullying problems.

In Japan companies are now paying the price for lobbying to close off their markets from foreign competition. Lack of outsiders allowed Japanese companies to fix minimum prices for services and goods, which drove up the cost of living to Japanese consumers. Next, rigging the market to prevent competition has made them unable to compete, not only against each other, and certainly not against foreign companies.

Japan's seniority-based promotion systems discourage innovation and performance, as there is no reward for innovating and performing, and reward people for doing nothing, as there are no consequences for doing nothing. Japan's employment regulations make it extremely difficult to fire non-productive workers. Since workers don't perform, companies don't perform. And since companies can't perform, the economy can't perform.

Where Japanese companies efficient places, fewer workers would be able to get more done in less time. And they would be able to spend more time with their families, and probably earn more to support their families as well.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry detailed fertility analysis reports into parental age differences for registered birth variations comparing childbearing statistics of young women whose age with those from their mother’s generation confirm sangetsu03 conclusions. The overriding question is creating a outlying strategy that can be taken to contain, reduce and subsequently reverse depopulation in a society that is culturally averse to the inflow of foreign migrants.

A cross party joint committee to report on measures to comprehensively reform and restructure employment, social provision to enhance family orientated policy for housing, most importantly a open national debate on the causes of this worrying trend.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Truly is there no way to save a nation that has given so much to the world in the past 70 years or so, (high quality goods, entertainment etc.)

What we need it an incentive to encourage a "Baby Boom" period. Many of the posts are right in pointing out that, many are struggling to keep afloat with income/finance to make "ends meet" to even think of starting a family.

I know a lot of Japanese that come to stay in the UK (London) many have kids and many have voiced their concerns that, it would have been harder or near impossible finance to have achieved this in Japan.

I suppose once things have settled you could return to Japan with the advantage of your kids having a boost in the English language. Why many decide not to return is beyond me.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm not sure whether many comments this low down get read, but here goes.

For accuracy of language, the birthrate is not falling. Every journalist uses this expression but it is incorrect. The birthrate bottomed out a few years ago and is actually going up. It's also lower in other advanced Asian countries. Think S. Korea, Singapore, etc. The number of newborns in Japan is falling because a lower number of adult women of childbearing age are having babies at the same (low) or a very slightly higher rate. If the birthrate has been below replacement level for a long time, the birthrate can go up and the number of newborns will still fall because there are fewer potential mothers out there.

The big fall in the Japanese birthrate started in the 1970s. It predates the Bubble by at least 15 years. I think the biggest single factor is women marrying later. The old "Christmas Cake" (worthless from 25 onwards) idea you used to hear twenty years ago. Because the birthrate started falling before the Bubble, the problem is not simply folk not affording kids. There is a huge societal element to this "problem". A big part of it is women trying to establish more of a life for themselves.

Local authorities often have a lack of childcare for "mimanji" (twos and under) kids because such childcare is massively subsidized and they simply cannot afford to provide it. Under twos childcare in the UK is typically 800 to 1000 pounds a month (outside London) which is 150,000 yen. Even very high earners in Japan will not pay much more than 60,000 yen a month for mimanji childcare in a public hoikuen, meaning the local authority is left paying 100,000 upwards per child. The big cost at daycare is staff, and both Japan and the UK operate on similar staff-to-children ratios, so their costs will be more similar than different. So anyone who says "oh there should be more childcare" as if it's just some political oversight needs to recognize how much of a gift public childcare in Japan is from the taxpayer. Our two year old goes and I'm well grateful for the fantastic service they provide. I doubt many of the other parents at the same hoikuen have ever thought how much the service must actually cost. Some people moan about the 200 yen charge if you're a minute late in picking your kid up as if its some big injustice.

Possibly the biggest problem of all is that mothers without special skills are lucky to earn 1,000 yen an hour in many parts of Japan and will not earn more than 100,000 a month. Many deliberately stay under 100,000 a month to remain dependent (fuyou) on their husband and get shakai hoken (the good pension and health care) for a zero contribution. That's another huge problem, but too much to go into here. Anyway, there are well over ten million women in Japan who are dependents. So some local authorities are handing out 150,000 yen plus childcare for babies (staffing ratio probably 1:2) just so some woman can work twenty hours a week at an 80,000 yen a month arbaito. Its crazy. They should just give her 50,000 child benefit and tell her to stay at home and look after her own kid. An 80,000 yen arbaito is hardly some career move setting such woman up for future riches. It might just be serving at the local Gusto.

Anything to do with the family in Japan involves all that family register (koseki) bureaucratic nonsense which means that very few people have kids outside of marriage and are effectively punished if they do. In France non-married parents are the majority. In Japan, if a woman gives birth within 300 days of divorce, the father is automatically registered as her ex-husband. Even if they have been separated for years. That is simply cruel. Anyone who gets divorced in Japan has it all put down on the koseki for future employers to deliberate over. There's red tape over changing surnames etc. and I bet public housing won't give you priority if you're unmarried. It's all very family unfriendly and out of keeping with the way people live their lives today.

So I'd just like everyone to sit back for a moment and consider that this has been going on for two generations and there are lots of different aspects to the problem. I can understand people saying "more childcare!" but there's far more to it than that. GIven the grants from the national government, local authorities would happily build childcare facilities with the same gusto as they build kominkan and bunka kaikan and all the other public buildings of questionable need. They don't build them because they can't afford to run them. And they can't afford to run them because most women can't afford to pay what it realistically costs to have someone else look after their children. And that's because of a combination of sexism in the workplace and the simple fact that workers in many better jobs have ridiculous needs placed upon them that are above and beyond anything someone with child rearing responsibilities would be capable of. Japanese fathers doing twelve hours at the workplace hardly have it easy, do they.

To finish on a positive note, I've got three kids. I was trying to put off number three indefinitely, for financial concerns as much as anything, but nature took its course and gave us another little beauty. I don't know where the money for college for them will come from, but I'm blessed to have them and my life is all the better thanks to them. Thanks for reading this far.

13 ( +15 / -2 )

With population and consumption both set to decrease by one-third by the middle of the century, how will Japan be able to service it's debts?

Well, gosh, it won't. And that's very serious if you only look at the short term. Long term, though, it's a boost. The world is overpopulated as it is. Adding more kids to Japan will not allow the government to service its debt - it will just help it build more debt. Eventually, more kids or no, the government is going to go bust.

Considering one of the biggest hindrances to economic progress in Japan is the government, the best thing that can happen is for it to be drastically cut down. It won't be long. Yes, it will be a very rough situation for a while - but that is absolutely unavoidable whatever happens. No recovery in Japan can occur until the government collapses in a heap of unpayable debt. I'd rather get that over with sooner so we can get on with real growth. Avoiding it entirely is not even an option, unfortunately.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Um, never said any countries have the same imbalance as Japan does. I said the same demographic trends that were first seen in Japan and which have led to that imbalance are now being played out in virtually all industrialized countries. Obviously, the place where the trend started first will be more imbalanced. Equally obviously, demographic downward trends in other countries have nothing to do with perceived flaws in Japanese culture and society, and if they are moving all in the same direction then the causes are not country-specific either. It's economic not cultural forces at work, and Japan is just the canary in the coal mine.

Exactly. Your posts amount to nothing but your own "rosy" theories/philosophyzing, with no actual facts to support any of them. But, nonetheless, you conclude that, and want others to believe that, Japan does not have a social or cutural problem -- because other countries MAY have a similar problem (although you still haven't cited a single one). LOL.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

With each child a couple has there should be enormous 'breaks' such as child endowment privileges, tax concessions, interest free loans, educational scholarships etc. etc. HOWEVER, these concessions must also be proven to be acted on in a positive way.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@ hakuebisu. A person after myself, hats off and respects to you. Your post was spot on.

Even in the UK we have the problem of women trying to establish more of a life for themselves, by chasing after degrees etc.

My wife often tells me of stories from her work place, (she's a professor in biomedical science.) many of the female students and the junior staffs in the age range of 28-38 often proclaim how, they've chased after a dream and achieved their goal but in doing so they have lost their love life. Its a story all too common or so she says.

Even so, I think the reason the UK is not suffering a similar decline in the birth rate is, because of the multicultural society Briton is, thus we have larger families particularly in the ethnic minority groups. Polls are based on British nationals holding valid passports, if memory serves me, I believe its not as simple as the UK to become a Japanese national.

On a side not, congratulation on your 3rd child, worry not about college findings, I am sure things will workout in the end,(I know that my kids are enough to encourage me every morning when going to work, even in the coldest of winter days.)

I don't know about your field of work but have you considered working abroad temporary, in some cases the salary can be much higher.

Regards

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This is a an important issue I have to address how many times Japan Today has to recycling post about Japan Childreen birth rate fall.

It sounds like you're complaining about how often JT reports on this issue. JT is reporting on a press release the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry released on Monday. It's not JT deciding how often the issue is raised.

Tokyo is just a megalopolis and that is one place that does not need any more people let alone kids, and how much does anyone want to bet that the increase is due to folks moving to Tokyo from somewhere else too.

That is highly probable, but it doesn't change the fact that was presented. Whether the increase was due to more births than deaths/reaching their 16th birthday, or due to more children moving to Tokyo from elsewhere, the fact is STILL that the number of children increased in Tokyo alone.

How is it the governments fault if young people won't have kids - wasn't a problem in the 70's.

The 70's? You mean "The period where Japan's economy was ramping-up to become an international juggernaut, and everyone was prosperous"? Yeah, not much need for government help then because families were able to live on a salaryman's income and the agrarian communities were doing well also. You can't compare Japan's economic situation in the 70's to now.

And still, the waiting lists for kindergartens in Japan are super long.

No. The waiting lists for kindergartens only in the places you want to live are long. There are PLENTY of Japanese schools that would LOVE to have your kindergartener. Aone, for example: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/in-japan-schools-so-small-they-cant-even-form-soccer-teams-resist-the-ax/2015/04/19/2f8e026d-f2b3-4592-80a2-84741b599ef9_story.html

Part of the reason the U.S. has a higher ratio of children aged 15 and younger is we allow many more immigrants into the country than Japan does. The influx of foreign families boosts our numbers. If Japan would open up a little, they might see things ease up.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Very good post by kohakuebisu - lots of sensible points.

And congratulations on the third little one!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

things will become more relaxed for the smaller younger generation, as they will have more employment opportunities,

Ah yes this myth that older people are blocking employment opportunities for younger people. We already know that this isn't true considering that when more women went into the work place between world war 2 and today it had zero impact on the employment numbers of men.

there will be more resources per person. When this happens, people will start to have more babies and we will see a flow in the opposite direction.

There are more resources per person today than what there was in 2000 and 1990s and 1980s, etc and yet the population continues to decline.

This is the natural order of things. We had too many kids, which created the population explosion that is now turning into the older generation. It's unsustainable, and so people naturally stop having kids, as they cannot afford them. When they can afford them again, they will start having kids again. It's not like the old people are going to live forever.

Prove it, show that a majority of societies in human history in which it was to expensive to have children was caused by having to many old people and was rectified by having the old people just die out.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Ah yes this myth that older people are blocking employment opportunities for younger people. We already know that this isn't true considering that when more women went into the work place between world war 2 and today it had zero impact on the employment numbers of men. -

There is a labor shortage in Okinawa. There is a major hotel here that only has 50% of it's rooms available due to staffing problems, half the building is shut.

The recent push by businesses to hire PT staff as full time salaried employees is just the beginning of a reflection of this problem.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I'm married to a Japanese man, that I care for deeply. He works 7 days in a week, have sometime only 5 hours to sleep in a day and one hour to take shower , eat etc. Each time when he try to speak with his boss about it, he is being blackmailed. So, how in the world a man can have still the will and the desire to think about intimate matters as intimacy and children ? He is in a automating adrenaline running state, and his health deteriorate each day more... I try to help as much as I can but it's useless. The years of intense social programming is hard to break . I fear for his life. Therefore there should not be any surprise that Japan's births are on constant decline. I thought that slavery is an undeveloped countries problem. Now I know better ...

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Ah yes this myth that older people are blocking employment opportunities for younger people. We already know that this isn't true considering that when more women went into the work place between world war 2 and today it had zero impact on the employment numbers of men.

Work is being done today. A large number of workers are nearing retirement. When they retire, one of two things will happen:

1) The work they are doing will done by someone else - someone who isn't retired and is therefore younger

2) The work they are doing will not be done anymore

Granted not all work will be replaced. But much of it will, and someone is going to have to do it.

There are more resources per person today than what there was in 2000 and 1990s and 1980s, etc and yet the population continues to decline.

No, there are the same number of resources today that there has always been, and always will be, unless we start finding a way to pull resources from space and/or other planets. That's how a closed system works, and our planet is most definitely a closed system.

Prove it, show that a majority of societies in human history in which it was to expensive to have children was caused by having to many old people and was rectified by having the old people just die out.

That wasn't the claim I made was it.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Yubaru I lived in a danchi (am American) with my Japanese wife. You are right in saying the rent is based on income but wrong in saying it is difficult for foreigners to get into one. The danchi building was brand new and a lottery was held for those who applied. Our lucky number came up and we moved in and lived there for 10 years.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

It's not like the old people are going to live forever.

No, but by the time they die off, we of the current generation will be getting on ourselves

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Work is being done today. A large number of workers are nearing retirement. When they retire, one of two things will happen: 1) The work they are doing will done by someone else - someone who isn't retired and is therefore younger 2) The work they are doing will not be done anymore Granted not all work will be replaced. But much of it will, and someone is going to have to do it.

And again what statistical study do you have to back up the claim that the old people are blocking the younger generation in employment opportunities? There is none.

No, there are the same number of resources today that there has always been, and always will be, unless we start finding a way to pull resources from space and/or other planets. That's how a closed system works, and our planet is most definitely a closed system.

Very good, now what you are purposely leaving out is that due to advancements in mining/extraction, automation in manufacturing, efficiency gains, etc. more of those resources are now easily accessible and affordable. Before they were stuck underground and we couldn't reach them, today more resources of this closed system are available when in decades past it was unpractical and or un-affordable to harvest them.

That wasn't the claim I made was it.

Yes it was, see the quote below:

This is the natural order of things. We had too many kids, which created the population explosion that is now turning into the older generation. It's unsustainable, and so people naturally stop having kids, as they cannot afford them. When they can afford them again, they will start having kids again. It's not like the old people are going to live forever.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Looks like lots of Kindergartens nationwide will be going under? Deserted playgrounds a common sight?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

All the kindergartens will be converted into aged care facilities

0 ( +1 / -1 )

NolivingMay. 06, 2015 - 06:20AM JST Ah yes this myth that older people are blocking employment opportunities for younger people. We already know that this isn't true considering that when more women went into the work place between world war 2 and today it had zero impact on the employment numbers of men.

The older generation will continue to benefit from the system enormously, but the younger generation will end up paying the price. In the Japan’s rigid labor market, temp work is rarely a steppingstone to something better. It’s a permanent, low-wage existence and it's a big problem. Japan with nearly 40 percent of part-time workers are about as flexible as you get. They work in poorly paid jobs for hourly rates. Problem is that most part time job earn about 40 percent less per hour than full-time positions. Benefits are all but non-existent. Moreover, people working part-time are less likely to marry and have children. If Japan is to solve its demographic problem, it will have to tackle the labour issue. Japan needs to narrow the gap between over-protected permanent workers and under-protected non-permanent ones. That coddling one section of the workforce does not serve Japan’s interests well. Simply making life less cushy for permanent workers is not likely to do any good on its own. The big push should be on improving the wages and conditions of temporary workers. It should be made far easier for them to migrate to permanent jobs and for workers of all descriptions to move more freely between companies.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm afraid that the root reasons for choosing not to have kids is too often connected with selfishness.

I wouldn't want to be the child of a selfish person that didn't want children, but was forced to. He/she wouldn't be a good parent and the child would end up suffering for it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Having spent a lot of time in Japan I can understand why the birth rate, and thus population is declining. The working male population is married to their jobs first, not their wives. Working 10 plus hour days, and having vacation of more than a week at a time frowned upon and discouraged does not help. The culture is not "family friendly" and does not put the family first. It puts loyalty to the employer first. Husbands return home at 9PM or later leaving the wife to deal with the children all day alone. If the wife works also there is limited if any flexibility in scheduling to accommodate the needs of a working wife. The philosophy is job first, family second. This is not going to change until the government mandates change. The culture will not permit an evolving change on it's own. The long term consequences of the status quo for Japan are grim economically and socially. If the leaders of the country want to turn the situation around then concrete action needs to be taken now or Japan will be a declining economic power.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

sfjp330May. 09, 2015 - 04:07AM JST NolivingMay. 06, 2015 - 06:20AM JST Ah yes this myth that older people are blocking employment opportunities for younger people. We already know that this isn't true considering that when more women went into the work place between --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

sjjp, You took the words out of my mouth. You are 100 percent right in what you say on your post. Japan has the worst minimum wage out of all the OECD countries surveyed. Even countries that we regard as 3rd world have much better wages and conditions than Japan. Take in to account the high cost of general goods in Japan, and it is a disaster.

Who can live on Yen 120,000 per month and even think of having children. And before anyone says that it is their own fault for not getting a better paying job, consider that there are always workers needed to do unskilled or semi skilled jobs in society. I know for a fact that there are many ex salary men who are working on minimum wage just to survive somehow.

Raise the minimum wage in line with other civilised countries and people will spend more, the government will reap extra taxes and people might be able to pay in to the archaic pension collection system. ( other countries fund the pensions from the normal tax take )

My Gaijin friends married to Japanese all went to their own countries to bring up their kids. better jobs and income, cheaper cost of living, free public hospitals, good pensions, strict labour laws, good holidays etc.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

And again what statistical study do you have to back up the claim that the old people are blocking the younger generation in employment opportunities?

Strawman innit. I never claimed that old people are blocking employment, only that more employment will open up when the old people retire, for the reasons I gave.

That wasn't the claim I made was it.

Yes it was, see the quote below:

This is the natural order of things. We had too many kids, which created the population explosion that is now turning into the older generation. It's unsustainable, and so people naturally stop having kids, as they cannot afford them. When they can afford them again, they will start having kids again. It's not like the old people are going to live forever.

Look at Post WWII - people had more money, so they had more kids. People have less money now, so they are having less kids. When people feel financially secure, they don't mind having more mouths to feed.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I never claimed that old people are blocking employment, only that more employment will open up when the old people retire, for the reasons I gave.

Yes you are, you are claiming that as the old people retire the jobs they held will then become available to the younger population. In other words the old people are blocking employment opportunities, or are limiting the number of employment opportunities, by staying in the work force longer and not giving up the jobs they hold.

That argument, and the reasons you gave, have been studied and proven to not be true. Again what statistical evidence do you have to support your claim?

Look at Post WWII - people had more money, so they had more kids. People have less money now, so they are having less kids. When people feel financially secure, they don't mind having more mouths to feed.

Right, but that has nothing to do with old people staying in the workforce longer. Do you honestly think the reason the USA has had stagnant wages is because the baby boomer generation is aging?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Each workplace or association of workplaces should provide free childcare. As far as immigration goes, the best way would be to ensure imigrant candidates have at least a level 3 JLPT (language) skill and are willing to embrace the culture. candidates must be willing to embrace shinto to some degree (culturally at least), participate in festivals, and live in areas most needed. They would be given a sponsor that acts like a big brother or sister to help them integrate. Lastly, they must swear an oath to preserve the japanese constitution and hold the laws of the nation above any religious laws.

@Jumin Rhee I agree to almost all but one thing i don't like is the part candidates must be willing to embrace shinto to some degree . It is not right to force people to suddenly embrace Shinto. It mean you don't respect other religion.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Not sure why its the governments fault to look after this issue. More babysitting??? Maybe people just dont want to have sex anymore. Isnt the whole herbivore culture the new thing these days?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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