It seems it’s not a good time to be a child or to bring up young children in Japan. The phenomenon of Japan’s greying population is adding another “victim” in its wake: adults are now not used to the noise from young children and are increasingly complaining about it.
It’s not like Japan is a quiet nation, what with all the convenience stores blasting electronic greetings the whole day and politicians with megaphones campaigning in train stations. But it seems that the tolerance from the sounds of children playing or just making their mostly natural noises is getting lower and lower. Day care centers are putting up sound barriers to mask the noise that children make and avoid the ire of neighbouring residences or establishments. Sports clubs have put up restrictions on what time children can play outside, also to avoid upsetting neighbours and club members. Masako Madea, a population specialist at Japan’s Konan University said they faced opposition from residents in Yokohama when the project she was involved in was planning to build day care centers in the area. A family in Tokyo sued a nearby day care center for “emitting noise” and is asking for $172,000 in damages for “mental suffering”.
All of these facts and figures show that this intolerance for children’s sounds will not help Japan’s existing problem of an ageing population. Almost a quarter of the population is 65 years and older and the replacement level birthrate is at a very low average of 1.39 children for every woman. The United Nation’s 2010 figures show that Japan has the lowest percentage in the world of children between 0 and 14 years old at just 13.2 percent which is even less than half of the global average of 26.8 percent. And all these complaints about noisy children interfering with the adults’ normal lives will further discourage couples from having more children. Kuniko Inoguchi, the first person to be named Minister for Measures for Declining Birthrate says that people have to be convinced that children are not a nuisance and that child-bearing issues have to be prioritized and even made top of the national agenda. Otherwise, the next few decades will become even more problematic for Japan as the population continues to age and decline.
[ via France 24 ]