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Japan's huge sex problem is setting up a 'demographic time bomb' for the country

Stashed in: Best PandaWhale Posts, Japan, The World, Aging, Japan, @iamjohnoliver, @azizansari

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Apparently a VERY significant proportion of Japanese young people have lost all interest in sex, love, marriage, and reproduction. Weird Japanese thing, or harbinger for the future of other countries?

As a French, I kind of feel the same with young american women.

Not for love and sex, as it's very liberalized and opened in the USA nowadays, but with the serious stuff that normally follows: marriage and having children.

I read a lot of them saying they will never want children, having a very negative image of maternity.

It might be just a phase of their life and they will change later when their biological clocks will start ticking faster, but it might also be deeper and they will indeed not have any children.

We'll see in 20 years.

I was surprised to learn that France has a higher birthrate than the US! And a disproportionate number of US babies are born to immigrant mothers. So perhaps you're right that America is having its own crisis about marriage and children.

America still has a steady stream of immigrants, fortunately. 

But I think if it weren't for teen moms and Latin Americans, the U.S. would have a very low birth rate.

Oce says France's birth rate is higher than all of Europe except maybe Ireland:

They could address the problem with smart legislation to make the workplace friendlier to motherhood.

This article on The Week says that Shinzo Abe is thinking a lot about this problem:

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants it to. This fall, he renamed his economic plan from Abenomics to Womenomics. "Creating an environment in which women find it comfortable to work," he told the U.N. General Assembly, "is no longer a matter of choice for Japan. It is instead a matter of the greatest urgency." He promised to expand day care offerings and promote flexible work arrangements so that women would no longer have to choose between work and childbearing, and he challenged businesses to promote women to senior management. Most economists, though, think that the trends won't change fast enough to prevent a real demographic crisis. "Sooner or later," said economics professor Heizo Takenaka, "Japan will have to face the necessity of immigration."

Even though there would probably be a lot of resistance at first, it sounds like the Prime Minister at least understands the seriousness of the problem, and that Japan will have to change both culturally and legally to prevent an economic disaster in the next few decades. I imagine that some anti-discrimination laws and requiring companies to allow paid maternity/paternity leave would help a lot.

If Japan could make the workplace friendlier to women, and, in particular, to mothers, they might even eventually start drawing immigrants from China and Korea.

They should also offer tax incentives for companies to create new jobs outside of major cities to create more affordable housing.

Lucas, thank you for this thoughtful response.

What you say makes sense to me. 

I wonder if Japan has the cultural desire to adopt the legal and policy changes that provide the behavioral economic incentives you mention. 

I really don't know much about the culture of Japan -- I'm sure Joyce has a lot of interesting insights about this. I imagine there would be a lot of cultural resistance at first, but civil rights movements always create a big stir in the months and years before the legislation passes.

Did you see the John Oliver bit about transgender rights? He said even if you don't support transgender equality, you should still support the legislation because "we all know how this thing ends," and history is not kind to the people who are remembered for opposing progress.

Thank you for recommending the John Oliver bit:

I think the people who oppose progress don't care how history remembers them.

They're more driven by wanting what they want right now.

And yes, Joyce has a lot of insights about this because she studied Japanese history. 

I hope she shares those insights with us. 

I don't know that I have any deep insights about this, except to say that young people in the US want better family-friendly policies and true equality but they're still getting dat booty as much as possible! Whereas in Japan... something like 20% of Japanese adults said they had a "strong dislike" of sex! As Aziz Ansari recently pointed out, "that's a strong statement!" HALF of all Japanese people between 16 and 50 haven't had sex in the last month!

And more to the point, people don't even really think that hard about the actual nuts and bolts of raising kids -- childcare and tax rebates and all that -- until WAY WAY WAY after they get the hots for another human... and THAT seems to be the part that's missing from Japan. From what I've read, Japanese young people view sex kind of like a lot of people view exercise: a form of entertainment that people tell them could be fun, but is kind of a pain and potentially could hurt them. And now that I think about it, that might be pretty close to the mark... ;)