Japan’s declining birthrate and aging population are becoming a grave problem. They are caused by several factors. As is often said, women’s participation in society is one. Moreover, the rate at which women are entering university is rising, indicating that the number of women willing to work long-term is increasing. This trend delays marriage. Yet, the government has done little to help women strike a good balance between child-rearing and work.
I see some solutions. Not only the central government but also each community ought to strive to overcome this crisis. At school, children must know the danger of the present situation, while conditions at work must enable women to take care of their children easily. There are also possibilities involving community relations, whose importance has soared since the March 11 Tohoku-Pacific earthquake and tsunami.
During the Showa Era (1926-1989), it was common for neighbors and elders to look after children whose mothers let them play outside. In recent years, an increasing number of elderly people have been living alone, and many of them may feel lonely. If an approach was taken making it popular again for older people to take care of children, everybody would win.
Japan cannot ignore its low birthrate and the longevity of its citizens any longer. It is important that the government and citizens view the problem as something that they themselves can solve instead of thinking of it as other people’s affair.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.