Kawaii, Hikikomori, and the Declining Population of Japan


Kawaii fashion

“Japan’s Net Loss: 947,000 People,” by Jun Hongo. The Wall Street Journal, 2/27/2016.

Japan’s recent census showed a decline in population for the first time since they began collecting the data in 1920. The decline was expected, but it is major challenge for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as he tries to boost long-term economic growth.  For this, he needs a stable population of 100 million through 2060 and that requires a fertility rate per woman of 1.8, considerably higher than the rate of under 1.5 now.

Good luck with that. I just watched an hour program on NHK-TV, Japan’s largest broadcasting organization, that gave tips for teenaged girls (and older) on achieving the latest kawaii look. Kawaii is Japan’s fashion of cloying cuteness or “adorability” normally found only in preadolescent girls on the Disney Channel. Think of Shirley Temple in her cutesy prime, or the Hello Kitty, which is symbolic of kawaii. Except for a few pedophiles, this look hardly inspires thoughts of reproduction.

(The girl in the photo is probably in her 20s.  Since ancient times, virtually all Japanese women affect a pigeon-toed stance and commonly wear extreme platform shoes as high as 4 or 5 inches. A large lollipop is a common kawaii prop and thumb-sucking a common gesture.  Hot pink is a common color for clothes, hair, bedroom walls, cell phones, everything.)

The total kawaii look involves much effort and expense for cosmetics, clothes, wigs, eye-surgery and even extends to living conditions and the total lifestyle, but girls have the time because the boys are into hikikomori, where they stay in their bedrooms all day playing computer games while their doting parents bring them their meals on trays.  Young Japanese today are just not that interested in reproducing.

Japan has long been known for its overpopulation. This new trend suggests the studies of overpopulation in rodent colonies done in 1968, and reported here a little over a year ago in the posting Rodent Overpopulation, 2/2/2015. In those studies, the normal social order broke down among mice raised in crowded conditions to such an extent their populations declined and continued to decline even after the crowding ended.

The phenomena of hikikomori is described in the postings of 6/22/2013 and 12/22/2013. This could be the future for our coming generations and may already be here, I kid you not. The Wall Street Journal recently reported the U.S. female electorate for the first time was primarily single, but not necessarily childless.  As Judge Judy says, we have a whole set of laws for married couples.  If you chose not to marry, but to play house and have children, don’t expect the courts to straighten out your life for you when your situation turns toxic.  This could be the first step.



About Roger Walck

My reasons for writing this blog are spelled out in the posting of 10/1/2012, Montaigne's Essays. They are probably not what you think.
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