Japanese population experts on Thursday (4 July) called for sweeping measures to decrease the birth rate to enable future generations to survive on the limited space of the Japanese archipelago.
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Background: Japanese population experts on Thursday (4 July) called for sweeping measures to decrease the birth rate to enable future generations to survive on the limited space of the Japanese archipelago.
The call was contained in a resolution from a three-day private conference on Japan's population problems at the National Education Centre in Tokyo.
The conference was organised by Japan's four main private population organisations and was chaired by Japan's Overseas Economic Cooperation fund. Among the delegates were a number of United Nations experts.
The conference resolution called for "zero" population growth -- in effect, a maximum of two children per family -- and urged the government to set up a population agency, promote family planning, authorise the use of contraceptive pills and to develop new contraceptive methods.
Japan's present population is 109 million and is expected to rise to 140 million in 50 years. Compared to the rest of Asia, this is a small figure. But only 15 per cent of Japan -- the coastal plains -- are habitable, and these are already cramped.
Before World War II, nationalists and militarists used Japan's large population as an excuse for war and imperial conquest. Today, many liberals fear the government -- under pressure from big business -- has encouraged population growth to keep down the cost of labour.
Any form of birth control is hard to come by in Japan. Contraceptives are sold illicitly. But the pill is illegal and abortion seems the most common way out of pregnancy.
But this year seems to have heralded some changes. In April, the government-run Population Problems Council mooted the idea of zero population growth -- a break-through from pre-war and post-war government policies.
Next month, the Japanese government will be outlining its policies on population growth to a United Nations world population conference in Rumania. Delegates to last week's Tokyo population conference have asked the government to take a definite stand for "zero growth".