Japan to workers: Go forth and multiply

by Carder and Jill
According to CNN, January 26:

japan pop.jpg
In a country where 12-hour workdays are common, the electronics giant [Canon] has taken to letting its employees leave early twice a week for a rather unusual reason: to encourage them to have more babies.

Japan is in the midst of an unprecedented recession, so corporations are being asked to work toward fixing another major problem: the country’s low birthrate….

At 1.34, the birthrate is well below the 2.0 needed to maintain Japan’s population….
One reason for the low birth rate is the 12-hour workday. But there are several other factors compounding the problem — among them, the high cost of living, and social rigidity toward women and parenting.
In addition, Japan’s population is aging at a faster pace than any other country in the world.
Analysts say the world’s second-largest economy faces its greatest threat from its own social problems, rather than outside forces. And the country desperately needs to make some fixes to its current social and work structures, sociologists say….

Japan is 25 years ahead of the US on abortion, having legalized it in 1948. A mother can abort up to 24 weeks. Shocker, according to the UN, Japan’s abortion high was 1955, “when more than 1,170,000 abortions were reported against about 1,731,000… live births. Thereafter, the number of induced abortions gradually decreased….”
Beginning in the late 90’s abortion began to rise again in Japan. In 2001, 342,000 abortions were committed.
That 1955 abortion stat is nearly the same as the US’s today, and our population is 300 million. In 1955 Japan’s population was 90 million. 50 years later it stalled at a putrid 128 million and has now incredibly begun to shrink.
Normally populations statistics are shaped like a pyramid, with many young people at the bottom with fewer and fewer people with age, as you see was normal in 1950 before the introduction of abnormal abortion and contraception. Now Japan’s population pyramid has tragically morphed into a rectangle. By 2050 Japan’s triangle will be inverted. That’s just incredible.
Japan's population pyramid.gif
CNN didn’t report the real underlying cause of Japan’s “desperate[]” population crisis: abortion. It’s politically incorrect.
[Photo courtesy of CNN]

19 thoughts on “Japan to workers: Go forth and multiply”

  1. “In 1955 Japan’s population was 90 million. 50 years later it stalled at a putrid 128 thousand and has now incredibly begun to shrink.”
    This is the most mind-numbing statistic I have ever seen.

  2. Wait a sec. There may have been a mistake somewhere. According to the website you linked to, Jill, it says “Japan’s 2007 total population was 127.77 million.”
    So unless I”m misunderstanding something, I think that’s more probable. Because 90 million dwindling down to 128 thousand in only 50 years I would believe is almost impossible, barring some huge nuclear war or something. God love you.

  3. “You would know a mind-numbing statistic if you see one, wouldn’t you Major Math Student?”
    In theory, yes. However, I would not trust my own abilities…

  4. Similarly, I’ve heard that Korea’s abortion rate is actually just about equal to, or even higher than, its birth rate. But it’s hard to track, since abortion is technically illegal in Korea, save in the case of certain exceptions. I think that for rape/incest, danger to the mother, and in cases where the mother or father suffers from a communicable disease, abortion is legal up to 24 or 28 weeks — but it’s a really, really easy law to get around.
    I think the social pressure to abort in Korea is probably astounding, considering that in general, life is much less about yourself and much more about your society than it is in the US. Thus having a child when you’re not supposed to (ie when you’re not married) is seen as upsetting the order of society. Most of my Korean co-workers never knew a single woman who was unmarried at the time she gave birth.

  5. Sorry, that last sentence was kind of confusing given the dual meanings of the word ‘single!’ I meant that most of the people I’ve worked with had basically never personally known a woman who was a single mother, except for those who got divorced or (more rarely) were widows.

  6. Liz, I know that S. Korea had banned physicians from telling couples the gender of the baby. Of course there were wry ways around the law all along, as there always will be, but I think in the 70’s or 80’s Korea saw a need to take action to protect girls from being aborted for their gender. I believe the ban was lifted last July — at least for the later stages of pregnancy (not sure on the actual details of it) — with claims that the country has moved beyond its sex-preferential views.
    There is evidence to support that claim, too. Oldest sons are often still given preferential treatment — more food, better treatment, etc — since they are expected to live with the parents after they’re married, care for the parents in their old age, and visit their graves annually after they die. But in the past decade or so, as women become less and less shackled to their husband’s family and have greater power in the workforce, daughters are beginning to be seen as an invaluable source of emotional companionship for parents. A lot of Korean culture is historically based on responsibility — to one’s parents, to one’s children, to one’s spouse, etc. Actually, the word used to refer to one’s spouse (they often don’t use given names), yeobo, originates, I believe, from a phrase meaning roughly, “Look here!” It’s about duty, moreso than in many Western cultures, where love/emotions are often seen as the driving reason for behaving in a certain way. The shift from being a society where survival is not guaranteed, towards being an industrialized society, has lessened the consequences for neglecting your duty — and has thus increased the value of emotions in human relationships. Daughters are seen as the emotional leaders/organizers of their families’ lives, and that is beginning to become a valued trait.
    Of course I’m grossly oversimplifying, and it’s not like Korean people are devoid of emotion by any means. But in generalities, that’s kind of a rough idea.
    This NY Times article touches on the surface of the subject: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/23/world/asia/23skorea.html?em&ex=1198558800&en=a7bd18a5d02237cd&ei=5087
    I know that one of my bosses, who is big on respect and family responsibility and duty yada yada yada, has one daughter and has no desire for a second child. He doesn’t see anything negative about only having a daughter to carry on his bloodline, care for him, whatever. He’s about 35, so I think he’s right on the line of an important generational shift.

  7. Here is an interesting piece from one of my favorite people ever; it’s about the responsibilities of the oldest son but it touches on the suckiness for his wife. http://askakorean.blogspot.com/2008/03/oh-pain-of-being-older.html
    This is actually creating a problem in Korea, recently. Because it’s so traditionally sucky to be the wife of a first-born son, women — who now have more freedom of mobility and choice — are hesitant to marry them. Especially since it often means living on a farm, away from everyone else you know. As a result, a lot of Korean farmers now marry women from Southeast Asia, and these women frequently experience a difficult life, both as a result of their husband’s behavior and as a result of the homogeneity of the Korean population.
    I think that there’s a decent amount of pent-up anger inside the first-born sons, who find themselves chained to a life they didn’t necessarily want. And so they perpetuate the negative aspects of the traditional cultural practices, as far as women’s experience goes, because they so acutely feel those negative aspects of traditional expectations in their own lives. At the same time, Korea is so homogenous that racism can be an issue, especially against Southeast Asians — so the children of these farmers are kind of in a difficult situation, since they tend to live in isolated (and thus not very progressive) places but they are at the forefront of a demographic change.
    Actually, a Korean man was recently convicted of raping his wife — a first in Korean history, likely due less to a lack of marital rape than to an unwillingness to prosecute it. She was Filipino, and he raped her at knifepoint — then defended himself by saying that the rape was accidental, and that she was equally at fault for failing to keep up with the housework. After being convicted he hanged himself to escape the shame of being the first man convicted for such a thing. I’m not sure what Korean law actually is, but I think that the wife ended up getting deported, since she hadn’t lived in Korea long enough to be allowed to stay without her sponsor. It was an all-around tragic situation, basically — one that’s definitely a result of changing gender roles and changing demographics, and also changing traditional values. So even if Korean women are gaining respect in their own culture, that doesn’t necessarily mean that everything is great now. Change is hard, even when it’s change in the right direction.

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