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That’s not the lowest in the world—Germany’s birth rate is actually lower—and America’s recently dropped to a record low 1.86.
But Japan is different from both Germany and the U. because it has both a low birth rate and extremely tight immigration restrictions.
Japan’s culture of long work hours is often cited as a culprit, though by some measures Japan is not exceptionally hard-working.
What’s more certain is that the decline of steady employment opportunities has robbed men lower on the economic scale of the stability to marry.
In America, the 2005 rate of unmarried 20-somethings was just 49%, though it had increased to 64% by 2014.
Within 20 years, 1/3 of all Japanese men are expected to be single for their entire lives.
“You know, while I was on my way home, I thought—it feels great that someone’s waiting for me.”It would be easy to laugh at the limited-release Gatebox as an overpriced ($2,500! But in Japan, the alienation that would make a lonely, overworked young man reach out to a robot for companionship is endemic.
In 2005, a staggering 72% of Japanese men under 30 had never been married.
At the same time, young Japanese men are being knocked around for being “herbivores”—that is, passive, uncompetitive, and uninterested in sex, perhaps itself an accommodation with their narrowing horizons.
These various forces, it’s worth noting, are linked.
Opposition to immigration, equality for women, and employment reform are all rooted in a stalwart commitment to tradition, institutionalized in Japan’s corporate-government nexus, which has spent decades evading necessary structural reforms.