Childlessness 182

Environmentalists – adherents of the religion of Gaia – want the population of the world to shrink. Some of them want the human race to become extinct. (See our post Earth Day: ideally celebrated with human sacrifice, April 22, 2012.)

In many countries – all of Europe, Russia, and Japan being notable examples – indigenous populations are shrinking rapidly.

In the United States, the birth rate keeps the population stable and immigration increases it. But there is here, as elsewhere in the developed world, a high abortion rate, and advocacy for infanticide among the leftist self-appointed elite. (See our post The Nazi ethics of the left, March 5, 2012.)

People who have no children save themselves a large expense. They are less tied down. Through their active years they are freer to please themselves.

But what happens to them when they grow old?

This is from an essay by Nicholas Eberstadt, in the Spring issue of the Wilson Quarterly, titled Japan Shrinks:

In 2006, Japan reached a demographic and social turning point. According to Tokyo’s official statistics, deaths that year very slightly outnumbered births.. … Japan is now a “net mortality society.” Death rates today are routinely higher than birthrates, and the imbalance is growing. The nation is set to commence a prolonged period of depopulation. …

Japan’s historically robust (if perhaps at times stifling) family relations, a pillar of society in all earlier generations, stand to be severely and perhaps decisively eroded in the coming decades. Traditional “Asian family values” — the ideals of universal marriage and parenthood — are already largely a curiosity of the past in Japan. Their decay has set in motion a variety of powerful trends which virtually ensure that the Japan of 2040 will be a country with far greater numbers of aged isolates, divorced individuals, and adults whose family lines come to an end with them.

At its heart, marriage in traditional Japan was a matter of duty, not just love. … Unshackled from the obligations of the old family order, Japan’s young men and women have plunged into a previously unknown territory of interpersonal options. … Even as young Japanese increasingly avoid marriage, divorce is further undermining the country’s family structure. Just as being unmarried at prime child-rearing age is no longer a situation requiring explanation, divorce now bears no stigma. Between 1970 and 2009, the annual tally of divorces nearly tripled. The number of new marriages, meanwhile, slumped by nearly a third. …

As the flight from marriage and the normalization of divorce has recast living arrangements in Japan, the cohort of married fertile adults has plummeted in size. … Nowadays, the odds of being married are barely even within this key demographic group. And marriage is the only real path to parenthood. Unwed motherhood remains, so to speak, inconceivable because of the enduring disgrace conferred by out-of-wedlock births.

In effect, the Japanese have embraced voluntary mass childlessness. …

Rates of childlessness have been generally rising throughout the industrialized world since 1945, but Japan’s levels were high to begin with. …

Though it can be represented in cold statistics, the human flavor of Japan’s new demographic order may be better captured in anecdote:

• Rental “relatives” are now readily available throughout the country for celebrations when a groom or bride lacks requisite kin.

• “Babyloids” — small, furry, robotic dolls that can mimic some of the sounds and gestures of real babies — are being marketed to help older Japanese cope with loneliness and depression.

• Robot pets and rental pets are also available for those who seek the affection of an animal but cannot cope with having one to look after.

• In a recent government survey, one-third of boys ages 16 to 19 described themselves as uninterested in or positively averse to sexual intimacy.

• Young Japanese men are, however, clearly very interested in video games and the Internet: In 2009, a 27-year-old Japanese man made history by “marrying” a female video game character’s avatar while thousands watched online.

• Japanese researchers are pioneering the development of attractive, lifelike androids. Earlier this year, a persuasively realistic humanoid called Geminoid F was displayed in a department store window, appearing to wait for a friend.

These random facts may not reflect the full spectrum of everyday life in modern Japan, but like anecdotes about any country, they reveal things that are genuine, distinctive, and arguably meaningful about it today—and perhaps tomorrow as well.

What will all of these unfolding demographic and familial changes mean for the Japan of 2040?

Generally and probably, a poorer, harder, lonelier, drearier life for a perishing nation is the answer. For details read the whole article here.