Fertility Crisis in Japan

By Mommy Donna and Kib - February 23, 2018

I had encounters with Japanese people through my online teaching job and they mentioned that they are really having a population issue.  They say that their generation is getting old, meaning, fertility rate is low.  

We all know that people in Japan have always been very hard workers and get very little downtime.  For the longest time, children in Japan went to schools six days a week, which only gave them Sundays off to unwind.  However, even though Japanese kids no longer attend schools on Saturdays, they are required to attend after school clubs which take place after school or on Saturdays.  In other words, the Japanese people from a young age have been working hard and have gotten used to living lives that involved mostly work with very little leisure.

Because Japanese women are working as well, due to the high cost of living in Japan, couples have very little time to spend with one another.  They have no free time and end up having to give up their occasional dates as well as their dreams to start a family.

As a result, Japan has entered a vicious cycle of infertility as well as low spending which meant more losses and a population decline of 1 million people within the last five years.  And if nothing is corrected in this situation, experts are forecasting a severe economic downturn, and any kind of social and family life will be completely nonexistent.

The life of an average Japanese couple consists of them both waking up early, and getting ready for work.  One of the partners finishes work late at night, has dinner, does a little reading, showers, and washes up and then goes to bed.  The other partner leaves work closer to midnight, and goes to the convenience store to pick up dinner, then goes home, washes up, and gets ready for bed to start the same again, while he or she tries not to wake his or her other half who needs some sleep in order to function the next day.  

It is clear that couples in Japan do not have much time for each other to bond and to build strong relationship.  They spend each other's time on earning and building their careers rather than to build a strong and loving family.  In this case, couples are encouraged to undergo counseling.  Invest in a good relationship with your spouse by undergoing counseling, and Regain.us can help.  Check out how Regain.us can help couples here.  

Japan is the one country that is incredibly advanced in regards to technology, however, that advancement is coming at a severe cost.  The economy is shrinking, families are no longer created, and people are living longer while there is a shortage of a pension and social security type fund.  There are also fewer people to care for the elderly since couples in Japan are having fewer children and less young workers.

During the early 1950s after World War II, Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida wanted to make sure that Japan's economy was built up.  He made sure that large corporations offered their employees lifelong job security and were successful in making Japan economically healthy for a long time.  However, there was a cost to that economy growing which was business had required more from their employees; meaning, women were working more and had to delay having kids, and as a result, fertility rates in Japan had declined.

Many Japanese women want to work, and were raised with having a strong work ethic, and don't want to become housewives.  After a long day of work, they don't want to be cooking, and doing housework and as a result, more and more Japanese women have been putting off having families until they are too old to conceive.  If they try to conceive after 40 years old, they end up having fertility issues.

In 1899, Japan started recording how many births per year occurred, and the amount of newborns per were never less than what it clocked in 2017, which was 950,000.  Based on the statistics, it appears that women have been having 1.4 births only, and sociologists have found out that in order for a population to remain steady, there should be at least 2.1 births per woman.

Due to the realization of this demographic time bomb, Japan has had to make some serious changes in order to encourage the creation of families among couples.  Japan is being forced to realize how important innovation is, and they can be creative with robotics technology.  They may be able to replace humans with robots in some cases so couples can have more time together, and start families earlier.  That being said, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, has set a goal of 1.8 births per woman by 2025 and wants to make sure that this goal is being met.

To prepare Japanese people in achieving this goal, Japan is now allowing men to play with dolls so that they can understand fatherhood.  The government is creating speed dating events so that young people can meet.  

In reality, we know that dolls and speed dating won't resolve the crisis.  Japan needs to create a better structure that will support family planning which it failed to do in the past, and this is why there is a fertility crisis.

It's not only Japan that is facing fertility crisis.  North America, United Kingdom, and Australia may also end up facing the same issue in the near future, if these countries won't do something to address the population issue.  

However, fewer young people, teenagers and young adults in their early 20s are not yet sure if they not only want to have kids; moreover, they are also unsure of getting married as well.  For sure, many young people want to go to school and have their own careers, and there are others who want to enjoy having their freedom without being pressured by anyone to have kids.  There are also many young people who are afraid to have kids because they do not like what is happening to the planet due to severe political differences and violence all over the world.  They are also very much concerned about climate change and how will this affect children in the future.

While there are still people who opt to have their own babies and fertility treatments are widely utilized these days, it is still an underlying concern that in 10 to 20 years from now, there will be fewer births in other parts of the world like what Japan is experiencing at present due to the above-mentioned reasons.

We cannot erase the fact that there will always be problems and political issues around us, and it will continue to scare younger generations.  Social media and the news are also to blame in spreading negative reports which makes people think that our world is no longer safe for young children.  If there will be a major decline in the population in the UK, North America, and Australia for these reasons, the government must formulate programs to encourage people to have children in order to support the economy.  The current population crisis in Japan might serve as a wake-up call for other countries in order to prevent such problem in the near future.

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