Japanese fertility (measured by TFR) has continued to decline, below replacement level, for the last thirty years and reached 1.29 in 2003. With Southern and Eastern European countries and Asian NIES, Japan became a member of the so-called “lowest-low fertility countries”, which were defined by a German demographer, Dr. Hans-Peter Kohler, as those with TFR below 1.30. The social and economic as well as demographic implications of such low fertility are comprehensive, far-reaching and ominous. In my lecture, both demographic and social and economic causes of fertility decline in Japan will be discussed in comparative perspectives. I also trace policy responses to such declining fertility by Japanese Government for the last fifteen years beginning with “1.57 shock” and evaluate them in comparative perspectives. Lastly, some value issues related to lowest-low fertility situation in Japan will be raised.
Makoto Atoh (Ph.D.) was until March 2005 Director-General of the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research（国立社会保障・人口問題研究所. As such he has directed numerous studies on Japan’s population development. He is President of the Population Association of Japan（日本人口学会）and professor of sociology and demography at Waseda University.