Monday, May 22, 2006

Or maybe I'm still an American

Since none of my useless blogpals were able to explain the declining population in Japan, I sent an e-mail to Az, the American teaching in Japan. I asked why he thought Japan is experiencing both low birth rates and more people leaving the country than immigrating to it. His response follows:

This is kind of a loaded question. I'll try to be short.

I'm sure accidental/unintended pregnancies account for a significant portion of any country's population growth rate. ...Here in Japan, they just abort them. Whoops, pregnant? Go abort it, the end. That's not helping.

Then, families are getting smaller because the husbands work so much and aren't even home to impregnate the wife. They probably don't even really have a sex life. Well, they do, but just with their mistresses. Who'll then get an abortion if they get pregnant.

As for why people leave and don't come back...Japan's a harsh country to live in. Nobody wants to work all this overtime, and people don't necessarily like being pigeonholed into social classes. But it's all they know so they do it. Japanese who go overseas see that "Hey! It DOESN'T have to be like this!" and if they go back to Japan, they get frustrated. So they end up going back overseas for good, or just never coming back at all.

That's it in a nutshell I think.

21 comments:

Joe said...

Sure, but how does one explain that you're still in the U.S. despite your fascination with all things Japanese (not to mention the apparently staggering number of lonely Japanese wives there seem to be).

Seven said...

Who will have sex with the mistresses if they all leave?
Sounds like a job for Grant!

Doug Murata said...

Sounds like conversations I've had with family members. I recall three of my relatives going to Japan. Only one spoke fluent enough Japanese to communicate, so they mostly spoke English to each other.

Story 1: On the train.
The three of them are speaking to each other in English. After their conversation comes to a stop, it just happens to be the same time some other passenger decides to look around for something, scanning the car. He gives up and sits back down. They start a new conversation and then stop. The other passenger then looks around the train again. After a while of accidental misses (conversation and then the guy looks around,) they realize that he's looking for the Americans on the train. Everyone looks Japanese, so he's confused. They then started doing it intentionally!

This segues into story #2: The train revisited.
Different train, different passengers, same three relatives. This time, they get caught speaking English. A passenger asks them why they aren't speaking Japanese. The fluent Japanese speaker of the group says "It's because we're American." Passenger-dude responds with "You don't look American!" She comes back with "What's an American supposed to look like?" After some thought, passenger-dude triumphantly responds "Blonde!"

Mind you, this was maybe 10 to 15 years ago. At the time, they just couldn't fathom a Japanese citizen wanting to leave even though it happened all the time. It seemed as though the general belief was that people would leave the country for something like studies and then come back. I wonder if they've gotten over themselves at all in the past decade and a half.

Enemy of the Republic said...

My best friend went to Japan to teach for 2 years. Now he's in China. He is a total nut for Asian women, even marrying one although the marriage didn't work. He had a lot of trouble with the language. He came to similar conclusions about the low birth rate; I think a lot of his lovers were married women. So Grant, if you are attachment phobic, there you go. By the way, thanks for your post.

Tracy Lynn said...

I think it's totally possible to fall in love with a culture while recognizing it's negative qualities. That's how I feel about America, after all. And I love all things Japanese, which doesn't make me blind to the fact that women are still second class citizens there.

It's like you fall in love with the whole person, not just the good parts.

SJ said...

Grant !!! Wait no more!! Stay in America all the Japanese usagi are coming there anyway!!

On a serious note: since the j are small made and their diet is healthy how do sumo wrestlers get so big? Are they like those 7 feet tall people oddities who become sportsmen?

Liz said...

Interesting... I figured on the abortion. When are you going to go over there and get you a woman Grant?

PBS said...

This sounds like an opportunity for you, not a problem.

Leesa said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Leesa said...

How about these factors:

(1) The fertility rate is declining sharply (defined at the number of live births per female in child-baring age). This could be due to your abortion, mistress thing.

(2) The age pyramid is shifting, having less women (in terms of proportion of the population) in Japan that are of child-bearing age.

(3) More women in Japan are holding out for some blogger named Grant.

I think this event (declining population) is multi-causal.

Kira said...

I'll have to show Alex this post. I think he'd be interested to see this explanation. It makes sense, though. The population of many European countries is going down too, although in France the birth rate isn't going down as fast as it could because of the large muslim population. Still, I'm aware that the French gov't, in an attempt to not go below zero population growth, offers all sorts of incentives to have two or more children...sort of the reverse of China,I suppose.

Angie said...

Hmmm, overworked equals less time for blogging and sex. Nope, I think I'll stay here.

The Humanity Critic said...

I thought it might be abortion as well, great post.

nosthegametoo said...

I have several friends who are either working in Japan or were born there.

My non-supported guess would be that the lifestyle has changed tremendously. Fewer people follow the religon, women are more independent and focused on career and individualism, men's attitudes about family have changed as well. I think that the society has become more individualistic than before... along with the abortion thing.

These are my guesses.

Plus they're not a fan of immigrants or intermarriage, which they apparently need.

hellbunny said...

well that certainly explains a lot of it.

messiah said...

i had a friend who went over to teach english there... while she loved the culture, the food, and the people - the humidity nearly killed her.

maybe they just all want to escape the 24/7 sauna?

JohnB said...

Based on your teacher friend's last entry, it's no wonder no one else in the world (Gaijin) would want to permanently set up shop there, the mistresses notwithstanding.

AVA said...

Haha. Very clever. It does sound like a great opportunity for you!

Stacy The Peanut Queen said...

Grant, sounds like you need to "get busy". ;)

patti_cake said...

Doug Murata's story cracks me up. Grant if I knew a Japanese hottie i'd so steer her your way in 'lanta

fatty ~ said...

woot can i be a useless blogpal? please? hehe u never stopped being american...