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So it's been confirmed that Japan's population has been on the decline.
Like any complicated nationwide issue, there's more than one reason at the cause of all this. Based on what I've read, the following reasons are:
- Young people aren't interested in dating or relationships;
- Childcare in Japan isn't that good;
- Women find themselves having to choose between their careers or being full-time mothers, and more are choosing the former.
First, in regards to young folks not really wanting to date anymore.... this is mainly based on what I've read around the web. Both guys and girls think that relationships are too much trouble or too much work. At the risk of promoting stereotypes, I've read that guys rather just hang out with friends and/or play video games, while girls also want to just hang out with their friends as well as go shopping. In other words, both genders just want to do their own thing and have fun. I've seen articles that they're not even interested in sex.
Secondly, about childcare in Japan... I've only heard this through my ex-housemate who is originally from Japan and is now back living in Tokyo. She doesn't have any kids of her own, so she may or may not be right. Meanwhile, a coworker of mine in Tokyo told me that kindergarten schools are very hard to get into because there are so few. I don't know if this is directly related to childcare in Japan, but if schools are so hard for kids to get into at a young age in Japan, then maybe that's another factor discouraging from Japanese adults to having kids. Not having good childcare could definitely be a legit reason on not wanting to have kids though. Oh, btw, my coworker in Tokyo almost has a baby due. Congratulations to her!! Japan needs it.
Lastly, women in Japan seem to be fed up with being forced to either being full-time house mom's or retaining their jobs once they have kids. From what I've read, Japan still has quite a mysogynistic culture, at least where corporations are concerned. Most of the ranks, especially upper management, are filled by men. And men say to the women, "You have a kid now. Stay at home and be a mom." Women don't like to hear that. And if they try to stay at work AND be a mom, then they face pressure to quit their jobs. In Japan, men are reportedly not that good at raising children (surprise, surprise) and are expected to spend more time at work. This probably contributes to the mysogynistic culture at work through Japan.
So, like in the States, Japanese women want to focus more on their careers and thereby putting off having kids till later. That's my understanding. Can't say I blame them. According to my pregnant coworker in Japan, she says that there are only a few companies that allow Japanese women to do both? But that may be more common with non-Japanese owned companies that have offices in Japan.
I know a few other women in Japan... I can't say what their exact ages are, but they're older than me. Only one of them has a child, and I don't even know what happened to the dad. As for the other women I'm friends with, I don't think they have husbands and/or kids of their own. I could be wrong because I've never asked out of respect for privacy, but that's the impression I get.
So as a result of there being less babies and a shrinking population, those 65 and older are expected to make up nearly 40% of Japan's population in 2060. That means elderly folks will probably have to work longer, whether they'd like it or not. This is for a nation that already has some of the highest life spans in the world.
I've read numerous comments online about how Japan's shrinking population is a good thing, that the world is over-populated with not enough resources as it is. I think that's a straw argument. If it applied to other countries with populations even higher than Japan's, then sure.... I see the logic of it. And that includes my own nation, the United States.
But with more and more elderly folks on the horizon... someone has to support the elderly. Who's that "someone" going to be? The young adults and middle-aged adults. Sure, it's part of Asian cultures to take care of the elderly because they're family. But with more and more senior folks, and less younger folks to support them, that's not sustainable in the long run. And it'll probably impact Japan's economy. Instead of focusing on innovative technology, tourism, etc, Japan will have to redirect more of her labor/resources to taking care of the seniors.
And related to all this is the immigration issue. With a shrinking labor force, Japan needs more people from outside countries to come in and prop up the work force. However, I've read that Japanese people can be quite xenophohbic, especially to Koreans and those from the Middle East (ie. very few Syrian refugees were accepted). This attitude is understandable, even though I'm not condoning it. But it's difficult to change people's mindsets. I must add however, that I do see quite a few foreigners in Tokyo... not in very high #s, but considering how it's an int'l city, a fair amount. For the most part, I doubt they've felt like that they're not welcomed. I don't really get that feeling so far from my 2 trips to Japan. Either I'm lucky, or I haven't noticed any discrimation attitudes towards me, or perhaps some people think I'm Japanese myself since I know a little of the language and I'm also Asian. But I can't say for sure, and I can't speak for other foreigners living in Japan.
Anyways... I digress. I do sincerely hope that Japan will eventually be able to reverse its declining population, or at the very least halt the decline. But in order for that to be possible, a lot of things need to happen... namely changes to her society's mindsets regarding the aforementioned reasons.
It would be a shame if such an awesome country would keep on shrinking to the point of collapse (gosh, that sounds dramatic). I care about Japan and hope she'll get back on the right track.