Thursday, December 4, 2008

Japan's Population Declining with Birth Rate

There's something strange going on in modern Japanese culture - and it has got everything to do with babies, or should I say the lack of Japanese babies? For years now the Japanese population has been declining because of a low birth rate, and suddenly the economic implications are starting to alarm Japanese political leaders.

Put it this way: for a married couple to at least replace themselves when they die - they need to have at least 2 kids. Right now in Japan, the Japan birth rate is just 1.29, which means that Japan will shortly go from a very crowded country, to one that seems quite empty. If things continue this way, the current Japanese population of 128 million people might be whittled down to only 100 million by 2050.

Observers of Japanese culture cite a variety of reasons for the population of Japan decline, including:

  • Japanese men work long hours at the office, so they're never home
  • Japanese moms don't want more than one kid, because their overworked husbands are never home to pitch in and support them
  • Many Japanese women can now support themselves without marrying, and as a result find that shopping for Italian handbags and taking vacations in Hawaii is easier than marriage
  • Japanese men aren't big on Western notions of love and romance, and many Japanese women have had it
  • Abortion accounts for thousands of innocent Japanese babies killed each year
  • There is no system of day care, which prevents Japanese moms from working if they choose to
In the end, modern Japanese culture has developed with whopping social security benefits for retirees along with a tight rein on immigration. If the Japanese population refuses to have more babies in the future, Japan may have to look more closely at cutting retirement benefits and/or increasing immigration to help raise tax revenues.

For a historical perspective on Japan's population and Japanese tradition, you can go to and check out this book:

Japan's Medieval Population: Famine, Fertility, And Warfare in a Transformative Age

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