As Japan’s birthrate drops, pets outnumber children

As Japan’s birthrate plummets, the estimated worth of its pet industry has risen to $10bn, with pampered pooches enjoying holidays at hot spring resorts, yoga classes and designer clothes.

Some of Japan's pampered pet dogs. / Alamy / Guardian

While the birthrate has been falling dramatically and the average age of Japan’s population has been steadily climbing, Japan has become a pet superpower. Official estimates put the pet population at 22 million or more, but there are only 16.6 million children under 15. …

“The most important reason for Japan’s declining birthrate is less sex,” says Dr Kunio Kitamara, director of Japan’s Family Planning Research Centre. His annual surveys indicate that the nation’s libido has been lagging in the last decade. The birthrate has declined, but fewer contraceptives are being used and there are fewer abortions and lower rate of sexually transmitted diseases. …

His latest data from 2010 showed that 32% of young men dislike sex because “they are afraid of failure and rejection by women.” Sixty percent of women in their mid- to late 20s are single, and 70% of unmarried women don’t have a boyfriend. In Japan marriage is still more or less a prerequisite for having children – only 2% of children are born outside wedlock.

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