The combination of a declining birthrate and rapidly aging population are among the biggest problems currently facing Japanese society. With already over 20% of Japanese aged 65 or older, and the expectation that the percentage will double by the year 2060, the country’s government is exploring many options to improve the situation. But Seiko Noda, a lawmaker with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, has suggested an option that would surely lead to controversy: banning abortions.
As a mostly secular-minded country, the topic of abortion isn’t controversial in Japan like some Western countries with Judeo-Christian influences. Abortions have been legal for decades and are widely accepted. Noda says that with over 200,000 terminated pregnancies a year in Japan, that is the best place to begin in order to improve the country’s birthrate. She continues that she will have the idea reviewed after Upper House elections this summer.
Never mind the fact that a solution like banning abortions wouldn’t even begin to address the issue of why Japanese people are choosing to have fewer children, it would really only compound existing problems that the government fails to deal with now. The two biggest being social welfare for younger generations, in this case low-income families with children, and the poor rate of adoption. As more of the country’s aging population reaches retirement, welfare is mostly dished out in the form of social security, and the serious lack of day care options for young, working mothers is a concern that is beginning to be discussed extensively.
In her proposal, at least Noda acknowledges that measures would need to be taken to improve adoptions, but that is an issue on its own that already needs to be addressed. And if people are already choosing not to have their own children, what is going to make them want to adopt?