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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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TweetThe end of the Japanese school year and things were made clear:
Make the Exam so damn easy a blind monkey with an eye patch, wearing a beret spitting Beech Nut could pass it…OR ELSE.

I sit down and I brainstorm on how to make this happen. I go ahead and make a review sheet. On this sheet, it’s all there. A series of simple exercises we will all do together in class which will ENSURE that everyone can get a perfect test score.


The following does dawn on me though: When I was in school I am fairly certain some desperate, near insane educator ( a real one, not someone using the “job” for the massive amount of paid vacation time in order to enjoy all his hobbies and essentially stay on summer vacation for the last 6 year’s) tried this trick on me.
I should remind you that I was not a very motivated pupil. I wrote my final paper my junior year, a five paragraph essay about Morality based on “The Punisher: War Journal.”

My point is that I know how little some students care.  I also know, however, that they only need 31 damn percent to PASS. COME ON!

So, after I made the review sheet and did it in class, I then decided to make the exams even easier.  Like buying meth from an Asian kid in Irvine easy.  Although the title on the exam said “2nd Grade English Writing” I am here to tell the world that in fact, there was very little writing being done. Multiple choice was the order of the day.  I suppose they had to write their names in English, but several students opted out of that and used Japanese and one didn’t write anything at all.

Now, before you look at the following, keep in mind, every question, EVERY SINGLE ONE, was on the review sheet.  We went over it in class. I walked around the class room mumbling “perfect test chance….perfect test chance”.  Students were giving me weird looks and one girl, concerned, asked me “Are you…OK?” Baby doll, I am…just forget it.  ….well….just read on.

Question 1.

What is the Definition of “New Year’s Resolution?” Circle one.


A. Plan a Trip to Europe for Shopping!

B. Plan to Change something about your life in the New Year.

C. Become a World Leader.

D. Build a Killer robot.

And yes….6 people chose “D, Build a Killer Robot”.  About 14 people choose “A, Trip to Europe for shopping!” and one girl even drew a smiling face on the Test Paper next to that answer…this was almost too much and I nearly stapled my tongue to my chin. I bought a coffee instead.

Obviously some people got it right and this was interesting. The students who got the answer on this one right, most of them aced the whole exam.  So that means they listened during the review and spent 10 minutes on the bus before school reviewing. Wow. I’m depressed, oops, I mean impressed.  I cannot bring myself to be too down on anyone though, as I remember my feats of academic excellence VERY clearly.  What I feel now is more pity, not for the students, but for my old teachers.  Jesus, God only knows what Ms. Kinard, my 10th grade English lit teacher thought when she saw me roll into class everyday.  I wonder if she had a cyanide capsule in a ring ready for the swallowing or if she was just going to eat a bullet when the time came. She had a full size, floor to ceiling promotional poster from the movie The Last of the Mohicans
on her room wall, and I can remember her sighing, oh yes more than once, and gazing over at Daniel Day-Lewis, tomahawk in hand.  Then there was me, looking like a extra from UHF smelling as though I just lost an impromptu enema contest.

I don’t really think of myself as a “TEACHER” per se but more of a consultant, so my heart goes out to the REAL, FULLTIME teachers, here and in the USA.  God Bless you people because you are doing a job I simply would not wish on a broke dick dog.  Keep up the good work.

If you like this then, you should check more from the “Japan ain’t so fucked up” series:

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