Sunday, May 05, 2013

Babies are not welcome in Japan?

"Without Babies, Can Japan Survive?" This is the question asked by the New York Times in a recent column. People aged 65 or over make up around a quarter of Japan’s approximately 128 million population. The elderly are expected to account for 40% of the population in 2060. Number of children aged 14 and under in Japan fell for the 32nd year standing at a birth record-low 16.49 million as of April 1 2013. Why would mothers have children? Are they encouraged to go with nature?

They are not respected by the nation's system which forces them not to work, stay home and wait for the husband, after his drinking and long chat at office or at hostess bar. Many women do not marry or share life with a partner or husband, spouse (watch out the gender thing in the outside world) and it is quite scary to watch girls spending life with their dog rather than their mate.

Exaggerated image?

Not so much, ask them, ask the Japanese women. How many have chosen not to marry, stay alone to be able to work after university studies and hard work, then rejected by men who fear their male colleagues reaction, and how many have given up their career because of their husband, society, parents in law pressure? Other social issues tend to join global society mood such as withdrawal, fear of sharing, society driven by adds rather than by ethics, common sense, no more constructed life, stronger individualisation and no more joy to share, bear and support - create a family, and for others the desire of a slow life? Add to this the fact there is not enough financial incentive for young parents to have children. In other words: Japan is not welcoming babies!

Too few kindergarten, too few nursery, corporations are way behind current western practices to help young mothers, I have never seen nursery in a normal Japanese company. The state does not provide attractive incentives in spite of politicians declarations and Japan's moaning about its horrifying low birthrate. Women give up, they try one child and carry on working duty, asking the mother to help until a certain age, or spend huge amount of money 100.000 ¥ a month, often half or one third of her income to take care of her baby in a private nursery. Basically it's Middle Ages demographic policy. Isn't it something to see with lack of imagination, conservatism, no social innovation, low consideration for the woman? In a country said to be created by the Goddess Amaterasu... Red face. The LDP has not encouraged the birth policy.

Of course if you are a rich Japanese, you can afford private institutions to secure your kids earlier years and to secure a retirement house for the elders. But it is expensive and you have to be rich to afford what is "natural" in advanced nations. So, for ordinary Japanese, the majority of the Japanese, the so-called middle class, it's sacrifice as usual for something they can't and will never be able to afford. Where does it lead the society?

3 solutions writes the NYT: "First, the government must create more subsidised public day care centres, which would make child care more affordable for more people. Second, companies must dismantle old systems that promote employees on seniority, rather than skills. These antiquated practices hold down young workers’ salaries and keep the labor market too rigid. And companies should discourage overtime work so that employees have more time with their families. Third, both the government and companies should encourage more women to enter the labor force with high-quality jobs on a par with men and offer incentives to women to return to work after childbirth. In places where these sorts of reforms have taken hold, from France to Sweden, the result has been a boost to the birthrate and the economy."

Japan’s birthrate today is just 1.39 children per woman. France, Sweden have addressed these arduous points and answered thanks to what remains of a benevolent social and health performing system.

Quotes: "Without Babies, Can Japan Survive?"
Images: Today com, JLK

1 comment:

  1. I received this comment to my story "Babies are not welcome in Japan?" by a Japanese female reader, Eriko san: "True, none of my good friends in Japan from school are married, and are having the wonderful time. They should have the retirement life like the US TV series called 'Golden Girls!" Of course that would not solve the aging society though..."


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