Here’s a little something from a devoted fan of this blog (thank you Thomas!). And it doesn’t come as much of a surprise, but according to AsiaNews.it in the year to 1 April, there were fewer births in Japan than the year before. That may not be surprising because for some years now (since 2007) Japan’s natural change in population has been in the negative. Therefore it makes sense that it might be having fewer children than the year before. What may be somewhat surprising is that this is not a new phenomenon. In fact, according to the headline it has happened for the last 32 years! Now I’m not sure where the headline comes from, for according to Wiki, the number of births in Japan rose between 2006 and 2007. But what I can see from Wiki is that in 1980, there were 1 576 889 births and in 2012 there were only 1 033 000 births. So whether or not the 32 years claim is strictly true, there is agreement that over the past 32 years the number of births in Japan has declined by about a third.
The result of these fewer births is that Japan is now increasingly a society without children. In the US, about one-fifth of the population is under 15 years old. In China, the number is about 16.5%, Korea about 15.6%, but in Japan, less than 13% of the population is aged under 15. And even within that under-15 cohort, the numbers are top heavy. 3.55 million children are aged between 12-14, but only 3.16 million are aged 0-2. Japan is not replacing itself. It is refusing to have children. Why? Because the Japanese are putting their careers first? If a career is really taking precedence over a family, then I hope that in 40 years’ time those Japanese don’t reach retirement and wonder why their life is so empty of family and the laughter of young ones. And why their memory of a career doesn’t fill that gap. I also hope that they don’t then realise that Japan isn’t able to afford their retirement pension through a lack of younger workers.