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More Japanese women decline to be mothers

Japan's population dropped from 124.6 million in 2020 to 123.9 million in 2021
A Japanese schoolgirl waits to cross a Tokyo road. The country’s younger generations will struggle to pay the costs of a society where nearly a third of the population are aged 65 or over amid a gradual fall in birth rates

A Japanese schoolgirl waits to cross a Tokyo road. The country’s younger generations will struggle to pay the costs of a society where nearly a third of the population are aged 65 or over amid a gradual fall in birth rates. (Photo by Odd Andersen/AFP)

Published: September 27, 2022 03:53 PM GMT

More than 60 percent of single women in Japan oppose having children after marriage, a growing trend that experts termed “shocking” for a nation struggling with low birth rates and a demographic decline.

The latest survey report from the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research of Japan revealed that only 36.6 percent of single women aged between 18 to 34 believe married couples should have children.

The figure of the National Fertility Report 2021 dropped almost by half from 2015 when 67.4 percent of single women were positive about having children after marriage, Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun reported on Sept. 26.

Experts expressed concerns about the decline in the desire for having children.

“The desire to get married and have children significantly declined particularly among women,” said Takumi Fujinami, an economist with the Japan Research Institute Ltd., and an expert on the issue of the falling birth rates.

The report also indicated that the number of single men wanting children after marriage decreased from 75.4 percent in 2015 to 55 percent in 2021.

Fujinami feels that the gender gap and pay scales along with the disinterest in government schemes are all factors that affect the rapidly declining birth rate in the country.

“Pushing marriages and making more slots available at day-care centers do not resonate with those who have no desire to get married (and have children) in the first place,” Fujinami said.

He also added that “the survey results should be used as a clue to tackle the problem from new perspectives, such as how the gender gap could be filled and how the wage levels could be raised for young people.”

The birth rate that peaked at 2.1 births per woman in the 1960s has declined to 1.3 births per woman in 2020, World Bank data shows.

The number of children that the respondents wanted in the future after their marriage also showed an alarming decline.

The female respondents’ figure declined from 2.02 children in 2015 to 1.79 children in 2021. The figure for male respondents decreased from 1.91 to 1.82 for the same period.

The number of respondents who did not want to get married has also increased during the last six years.

The figure among women rose to 14.6 percent in 2021 as opposed to only 8 percent in 2015. The corresponding figure among men was 17.3 percent for 2021 versus 12 percent.

The nationwide survey is conducted every five years to collect data on people’s views of marriage and childbirth. The 2020 survey was moved to 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

To tackle the rising issue, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan (CBCJ) had declared 2010 as the 'Year of Life' and launched a series of medical and social initiatives to promote more births, which yielded minimal results.

The population in Japan has shown a rapidly declining trend that is alarming and points towards a demographic catastrophe for one of Asia’s advanced nations.

Japan’s population dropped from 124.6 million in 2020 to 123.9 million in 2021, according to official statistics. The population loss was 700,000 in just one year.

The gradual decline in population has earned Japan the tag of “a super-aged society.”

“Japan is aging fast. Its 'super-aged' society is the oldest in the world: 28.7 % of the population are 65 or older, with women forming the majority,’’ European Parliament said in a briefing in December 2020.

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2 Comments on this Story
MR ALEXIS FERNANDES
The fall in population was 700,000 last year - not 70,000 as stated.
CHRISTOPHER JOSEPH
We have corrected the slip.
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