In Japan like most industrial countries the rate of new children is falling to record lows. Numbers released for 2010 show that Japan had 1.19 million deaths ( the biggest number since 1947 when the health ministry’s annual records began) and 1.07 million births. With more deaths than births that means the Japanese population shrunk by 123,000 people. It gets worse when you look at numbers for kids in Japan. According the The Daily Mainichi a recent Japanese census shows that the number of children under the age of 15 in Japan dropped 190,000 from a year earlier to 16.94 million as of April 1, marking a record low for the 29th straight year. Japan has the lowest % of children in countries over 40 million. Things aren’t looking any better in the future as marriage rates are falling too. In 2010 there were 706,000 marriages registered — the fewest since 1954. Other countries offset this declining birthrate by allowing immigrants which increases the amount of young, tax paying, workers in the country but Japan refuses to allow any large scale immigration (only 2 percent of the population here is foreign) and those they do allow in are leaving as the economy suffers. Records from the Justice Ministry show the number of registered foreign residents in Japan as of the end of 2010 was down 51,970 from a year earlier to 2,134,151, falling for the second consecutive year.
|UPDATE – Post 3-11 Earthquake|
|Japanese Immigration reported that “the number of foreigners flying out from March 11 to March 22 totaled 161,300 — an eightfold increase from about 20,000 in the same period last year.” We won’t know how many of those were long term residents and if they eventually came back till 2012.|
What makes things worse is that the Japanese refuse to accept any measures that would increase the birth rate. Having a child in Japan is expensive as it is not a disease thus not covered by the national Health Care system. Also, those worrying about the Japanese slump which has plagued the country for the last few decades have put off having a child until the economy picks up. Some have even given up, creating a class of women and men who don’t want children or even marriage.
Recently they have tried to open the immigration door a crack by allowing Filipino and Indonesian students into the country under a special program to study for a Japanese nursing license but of the three hundred allowed entry only 3 passed up from zero the year before. This has led to allegations that the Japanese government is stacking the system to prevent nurses from gaining entry. And it seems to be working, potential Filipino and Indonesian nurses have given up getting work in Japan and are instead setting their sites on China and Singapore.
So Japan still penalizes new families with high labour and pre-natal costs preventing a baby boom while at the same time conservative Japanese culture turns off potential mothers from starting a family (Japan is ranked 32nd in the world to be a mother). It prevents immigration and stonewalls foreign worker programs by using tests that are based around the knowledge of archaic Chinese Kanji.
So just how is Japan going to A) care for its greying population and B) pay for its greying population. Well it seems like they’re putting all their eggs in one basket and hoping for a breakthrough in … robots. At the Shanghai High Expo Japan in the hope of entering the Chinese market, Japanese manufacturers are showcasing robots that have already been put to practical use in the nursing and welfare fields in Japan. Japan hopes to become a nation supported by robots as the new cheap labour force. Picture thousands of robots slowly taking over each sector of the Japanese workforce, looking for Sarah Connor … yeap nothing bad could happen there….
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This is extrenely well written and put together and I think, possibly the best thing I have read from you. We recently shared a conversation along these lines and it is a subject that I know the both of us are quite passionate about because as time goes on, we have more and more invested in this place.
The most bizarre and TROUBLESOME factor in respect to this topic is that NOBODY WANTS TO DISCUSS IT!
Its like an entire country has its head in the sand so to speak and are just hoping it all just “goes away”.
Drastic measures need to be taken IMMIDIATELY to fend off a massive economic COLLAPSE!
What of parasite singles? The word for them (parasaito shinguru is the term but I sware I came across a new word for it I could be wrong, but still the term parisite single alone. It sounds so gross it shows their distaste for the subject and one reason why it would not be brought up)? you barely touched that subject and didn’t even list the word/term for it. Thats right it is so bad there is a word/term for it.
More numbers and statistics with a bit more of a discussion on the number of deaths and its yearly average compared to the number of births (I believe deaths started outnumbering births in 2007 and it has increased since then, I could be off) and you get some really creepy-eye-opening reality checks.
You did write an amazing article; however it feels like you stopped to soon. Hikiko-mori are another thing putting weight on the scale of this problem and tipping it over to catastrophe. The statistics of Japanese moving out of the country should also be listed. I know you can take this awesome article and push it further.
I have noticed some things that help contribute to this, besides economic troubles. Families have less of a role in encouraging, aranging (aranging dates or going to a professional marriage aranger) and helping marriages. There is less pressure to marry young. The push to city life over rural life has increased the cost of space leading to capsule hotels and longer job commutes. This coupled with widdening generation gaps leads to less being passed down as far as how to handle the switch to family life for a women.
So the Japanese pen pal sites are flooded with women who don’t know what to do with free time as a married woman asking for all manner of crazy info. One wanted stamps, just stamps, she didnt care what country you were from and could only read and write Japanese but any mail meant new stamps to look at. Another turned to manga, another videogames and others pretty much every random time wasting activity you can imagine.
They don’t spend anytime with their husbands and get nervous when the husband/stranger is going to be home, relieved when this complete stranger goes back to work. Not exactly a procreation inducing situation. This of course leads to retirement divorcees.
So Yosomono great read. Please go back and revisit this. Don’t hold back go nuts. If anyone can elaborate on this and make it a rockin huge article I think you can do it.
The term “Parasite Singles” is a little misleading. It’s not that young people can’t move out on their own it’s that they can’t afford to. A friend of mine just moved into a place with his girlfriend. To move into an apartment just outside of Tokyo he had to pay a two month bribe to the landlord, a fee equal to a months rent to the rental agency, two months damage deposit, the first month’s rent, a fridge and A/C unit (not included in Japan) all combined he had to pay around $US 10,000 to move. This isn’t even including the cost of moving in Tokyo not to mention every 2 years he has to pay a “thank you” fee to the rental agency of a full months rent for finding the place to begin with. Who can afford that? In some parts of America ten grand is a down payment on a house. Hell in the States in this economy you can BUY a house for $10,000.
“Parasite Singles” aren’t staying in their parents house because they’re lazy or want to spend more money on frivolous things it’s that they can’t afford to move out on their own.
Same thing with Hikiko-mori, the infamous Japanese Shut-Ins. All urban cultures around the world have shut-ins. The reason the Japanese version got so much press was the numbers. The man who “discovered” and coined the term, Psychologist Tamaki Saitō, claimed that there may be one million hikikomori in Japan, representing 20% of all male adolescents in Japan, or 1% of the total Japanese population.
But supposedly in his biography, Hakushi no kimyō na shishunki, Saitō admitted he just guessed the number by assuming that there are the same number of Hikiko-mori as there are people with schizophrenia in Japanese society. So is it a problem any worse than any other country?