A Health, Labor, and Welfare Ministry survey revealed a record low decline of birthrate in Japan, dropping to 1,037,101 in the year 2012. It was 13,705 less from last year's result. Despite the current, as well as the previous, administration efforts, it still cannot be denied that Japan’s graying population has become a persistent issue. Solutions have been proposed in the past with one including giving handbooks to young women encouraging them to bear a child, which was eventually dismissed because of protests from some women's groups.
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.
The Japanese government has now decided to go against its initial plan to distribute handbooks on pregnancy to young women. The one they reckoned most to be the best way to counter the nation's declining population proved to have been unwelcome by most women's groups, including the All Japan Obachan Party (AJOP). The handbooks were intended to be distributed in the following fiscal year if approved.
Data from a new study by Japan’s Institute for Research on Household Economics shows that more and more middle-aged Japanese men are quitting their jobs to take care of elderly parents. According to the study, 13.4 percent of men aged between 40 and 64 are living with parents who are requiring nursing care – these men had quit their jobs to care for their elderly relatives. Data also showed that 27.6 percent of women facing the same situation quit their jobs to do the same.
Japan’s falling birthrate is becoming a very real problem for the Asian economic power, enough that the central government is thinking of ways to promote having children. One of the ideas of the Japanese government is to produce a handbook with relevant information on pregnancy and childbirth to be distributed to teenage girls starting fiscal 2014 – this spearheaded by a task force set up to address the issue of a declining population. This promotion has been soundly met with strong criticism from women's groups, as they argue that the government is treating pregnancy and childbirth as if they were issues that only concern women.
As a firm evidence of Japan’s growing elderly population, recently released government data shows that Japan’s number of workers aged 60 years and above reached record highs in 2012. Japan’s elderly workers – numbering at 11.92 million in 2012 – make up almost 20 percent of the country’s workforce.
The combination of a declining birthrate and rapidly aging population are among the biggest problems currently facing Japanese society. With already over 20% of Japanese aged 65 or older, and the expectation that the percentage will double by the year 2060, the country's government is exploring many options to improve the situation. But Seiko Noda, a lawmaker with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, has suggested an option that would surely lead to controversy: banning abortions.
An erosion of traditional family values in Japan will see fewer elderly being cared for at home by relatives, and Japan as a country may not be fully prepared for the phenomenon. By 2025, one in three citizens will be 65 years or older, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development estimates.
A study conducted by the government's Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry found that 1.62 million Japanese people were identified as "isolated" from society in 2011. The results released on Sunday defines those as being between the ages of 20 and 59, singe, unemployed, not actively seeking education, and living alone or only in contact with family members on two consecutive days of the entire year.