TOKYO, December 3, 2004 ( – A record number of Japanese women are unmarried and childless, leading the country perilously close to a childless society. The country has actually coined a new term to describe the phenomenon – ‘shoshika,’ which means “a society without children,” according to a BBC report.  The population, if current trends continue, will be reduced by 20 percent by mid-century, with nearly 50 percent of those being elderly—an “impossible” situation for maintaining the health and pension systems.  Women in the country are reticent to marry, blaming employer and social expectations, such as long working hours for men, coupled with the expectation that women stay at home after having children.  The country has already introduced three policies to encourage women to have more children – all intended to improve child care access so that women can continue to work. So far women haven’t bought the idea.  Japan’s birthrate fell to a record low of 1.29 last year. The birthrate, which has been falling for decades, now ranks among the lowest in the world.

Read related coverage:  Japan’s Birthrate Falls to New Record Low   tv


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