This website use cookies and similar technologies to improve the site and to provide customised content and advertising. By using this site, you agree to this use. To learn more, including how to change your cookie settings, please view our Cookie Policy
Pocketmags Digital Magazines
Pocketmags Digital Magazines


The low birthrate and aging population are driving pressure to restrict abortion in Japan


ON A BRIGHT winter day in the Japanese village of Nagoro, a group of life-size dolls stand silently at a bus stop on a long-canceled route. One, dressed in a suit, furrows his brow with permanent impatience. At 65, the artist who made them, Tsukimi Ayano, is one of the youngest of Nagoro’s 35 remaining villagers. She sewed each doll to look like a former resident who died or moved away. Her dolls now outnumber her neighbors.

They are a reminder of a time before the nation’s population began its precipitous slide and the countryside emptied out, leaving an estimated 10,000 “ghost towns” to slowly crumble. Japan has the oldest population in the world and the second lowest birthrate. New census data in February showed the population shrank by around 1 million people in five years. The population is expected to shrink by a third in the next 50 years, and as a result, “the shadow of an economic collapse is creeping over Japanese society,” according to the Japanese Center for Economic Research. Facing that bleak forecast, the government is encouraging people to have children by subsidizing everything from speed dating to day care. But so far, those programs haven’t had much success.

Purchase options below
Find the complete article and many more in this issue of Newsweek International - 18th March 2016
If you own the issue, Login to read the full article now.
Single Issue - 18th March 2016
Or 499 points
Annual Digital Subscription
Only $ 0.67 per issue
Or 3399 points
Monthly Digital Subscription
Only $ 0.94 per issue
Or 399 points

View Issues

About Newsweek International

Behind the Iran Curtain - Iranians are emboldened by the lifting of sanctions, but the battle between conservatives and reformers is far from decided.