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nchristi Profile
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Japan—Domestic Issues/Events in the News


Note: I thought I'd make this topic a catch-all for varied items of general interest going on in Japan—similar to the "Korean Wave" topic—so the latest happenings can find a home in one place, instead of many separate and scattered threads.


Population fall makes Japan birthrate urgent issue

Reuters
By Elaine Lies
Fri Dec 16, 2005 - 8:42 AM ET


Japan's population will shrink by half in less than a century unless something is done to reverse the country's falling birthrate, the government said in a white paper issued on Friday.

The process could start as early as next year.

Deaths exceeded births in Japan by 31,034 in the first half of 2005, raising the possibility that the population will start to decrease in 2006, a year earlier than previously predicted and a trend that could severely hurt Japan's global competitiveness.

"If the current low birthrate continues, the population in 2100 is likely to fall to roughly half of what it is today," the white paper said.

Japan's fertility rate -- the average number of children a woman bears in her lifetime -- fell to 1.288 in 2004 from 1.2905 in 2003, marking a postwar low.

Japan's baby shortage has become an urgent problem for policy makers, who once dealt delicately with the issue for fear of echoing nationalist wartime efforts to boost the birthrate.

Noting that countries such as France have managed to increase their birthrates, the white paper said their policies must be used as a guide and applied, where possible, in Japan.

"Compared with nations that have recently boosted their birthrates, such as France and Sweden, we cannot say that our nation's policies are really sufficient," it said.

A survey in March found that 69.9 percent of women respondents felt that economic support, such as help with daycare or medical fees and cash allowances for each child, was crucial.

"There are women close to me who work and have children, and I see how hard it is for them, how expensive daycare is," said Yumi Ota, a 38-year-old office worker.

Increasing the number of daycare facilities was a distant second at 39.1 percent.

"We can clearly see from this that economic needs are high, but compared with some European nations, the offerings of our nation are limited," the white paper said.

ECONOMIC NEEDS

Some sociologists, however, said that while extra financial support -- difficult to come by in an era of tight budgets -- was important, more fundamental lifestyle changes were needed.

"I am very frustrated that politicians are always talking only about child allowances and not about services," said Mariko Bando, vice president of Showa Women's University and former head of the government's gender equality office.

"We need more daycare services, longer childcare leave, and more after-school programs for children who are already in primary school."

Others said the most important thing was improving the overall work situation.

"People don't work overtime as much overseas," said social commentator Keiko Higuchi. "Also, France makes sure educated women have a place to work even after they have children.

"Japanese businesses, on the other hand, still make it difficult for a woman to both work and have children. It's a huge waste of a national resource."

Reasons cited for the falling birthrate include such often-cited factors as higher education levels, a shift to later marriage, the cost of raising children and the burden on working women given a shortage of daycare options.

The white paper also noted that the growing number of what are known as "NEETS" -- young people not in employment, education or training -- and those who switch from one casual job to another was also having an impact by delaying marriage.

"I personally feel that before I can really have a child, I would need to save up some money so I can take care of it," said Keijiro Odaka, a 27-year-old office worker.

The white paper made no mention of what some experts say may be an unavoidable solution -- more immigration.

Concern about crimes committed by foreigners has been growing in Japan, making many people wary of welcoming large numbers of foreign residents.




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Hiroshi66 Profile
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Re: Japan—Domestic Issues/Events in the News


That's a very alarming topic for many older Japanese. The younger generations simply do not want to have children, and the pressure placed on them to get a high paying job makes that chance lower.
12/17/2005, 9:43 am Link to this post Send Email to Hiroshi66   Send PM to Hiroshi66 AIM
 
nchristi Profile
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Re: Japan—Domestic Issues/Events in the News


Yes, even I feel somewhat distressed by this from the aspect that it seems the primary solution is people from other countries permanently settling there and establishing their families as Japanese citizens. Of course, that will change enormously the Japanese culture and tradition than has remained largely untouched for centuries. Something gained; something lost.
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Hiroshi66 Profile
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Re: Japan—Domestic Issues/Events in the News


class blockquote nchristi wrote:

Yes, even I feel somewhat distressed by this from the aspect that it seems the primary solution is people from other countries permanently settling there and establishing their families as Japanese citizens. Of course, that will change enormously the Japanese culture and tradition than has remained largely untouched for centuries. Something gained; something lost.
Right. Not to mention that those settling there will not even be Japanese - meaning Japan may end up becoming like the United States in terms that it is composed of various ethnic groups. That is a bit drastic, since Japan is almost 100% homogenous and that process would take centuries.
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TomCat Profile
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   Insted of the just inviting migrant families to increase the general population base, why no make your country more internationial friendily..with tax, enployment, and educational benifits for intermarriage to your population and permenmt resettlement into the Japanese population base..with automactic citizenship also offered to new emigrants who marry a Japanese national.....sure I'd miss California, but what the heck change is good.
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Hiroshi66 Profile
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Re: Japan—Domestic Issues/Events in the News


class blockquote TomCat wrote:

   Insted of the just inviting migrant families to increase the general population base, why no make your country more internationial friendily..with tax, enployment, and educational benifits for intermarriage to your population and permenmt resettlement into the Japanese population base..with automactic citizenship also offered to new emigrants who marry a Japanese national.....sure I'd miss California, but what the heck change is good.
The whole issue of foreign life in Japan has been an issue forever in Japanese history - it would take a few generations for foreigners to become accepted in Japan..
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Re: Japan—Domestic Issues/Events in the News


    From what I've picked-up from Japanese media there are whole naborhoods make of returned ex-pat intermarried mixed race families of returned Japanese, ex-pats who have returned with wives and husbands from south america mostly but also no douht from europe and Nothe America also who now live close to togeter so that the families can have related languages at close proximity. Also in recent news from Japan there have been some noted crimes that are linked to ex-pat children who had used thier families heritage to get visas to enter Japan.
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This is why the media usually portrays foreigners as being linked to petty crime. Especially with Chinese immigrants who are being targeted as being "criminal".
12/19/2005, 12:43 pm Link to this post Send Email to Hiroshi66   Send PM to Hiroshi66 AIM
 
TomCat Profile
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    As in this country many emigrant populations get the crimes of the very few tegged to the entire new population while the majority are to the most harmless.
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merela Profile
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Re: Japan—Domestic Issues/Events in the News


My uncle became a Japanese citizen a while back and he had to renounce his birth country and adopt a new Japanese surname. It's difficult for foreigners to own real estate properties in Japan. It's total assimilation or nothing! Foreigners are welcomed to live and work in Japan, but as foreigners. You just can't become a Japanese citizen.

The issue of hiring foreigners to work in menial jobs is a tricky one. You are talking about massive influx of foreigners. I believe Japan is one of the last holdouts. In countries like Taiwan and Hong Kong, there are so many foreign workers from Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philipphines that there are so many social and labor problems related to the "control" of foreign workers. A lot of Chinese workers in Japan are illegals. They didn't enter Japan legally, thus they work in the underground network of Chinese restaurants, business, and the Yakusa-controlled entities. The Korean population in Japan has always been considered as second-class citizens in that country

To say the Japanese mentality has a racist overtone is too generalized. They do not discriminate against you personally, but they just like to keep their Japanese culture and people uniformly Japanese and "pure". I can understand where they are coming from though...they want to prevent outside cultures from cannibalizing their own culture. This is easily done because they've never allowed outsiders to become part of them, so there are no dissenting voices within their country. If others voice opinions regarding Japan's racist policies, they can always say it's their national policy, so other countries cannot interfere. Afterall, this is a country that thrives on uniformity, rather than self-expression and uniqueness.

Last edited by merela, 12/19/2005, 1:58 pm
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