Friday, June 8, 2012
Why Japan prefers pets to parenthood
And there's a growing market in services and treats for pets. The pet industry is estimated to be worth more than ¥1tn a year (around £8.2bn) and has expanded into gourmet dog food stores, hot spring resorts, yoga classes and restaurants where dogs sit on chairs to eat organic meals.
Despite the economic stagnation, people seem happy to spend any spare money on photo sessions, massages and treats for their four-legged "babies". The average fertility rate is now 1.39 children per woman – well below the number needed to keep the population stable. Japan has, in effect, a self-imposed one-child policy. Government projections show if current trends continue, today's population of 128 million will fall to 43 million over the next century.
"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.