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Child Science on the Declining Birthrate

The falling birthrate has been a problem in Japan for some time, in fact, since the so-called 1.32 Shock of FY2002 when the total fertility rate reached 1.32. There are fears that Japanese society will collapse and the nation's future is endangered because Japan plunged headlong into population decline last year. As you know, a number of people have addressed this problem, but very few from the perspective of Child Science. Child Science brings together the sciences to consider children from an interdisciplinary and trans-disciplinary stance. Here, I would like to offer some thoughts on the declining birthrate from the point of view of Child Science and its significance for pursuing better ways for caring for and raising the next generation.

Approaching the declining birthrate from the perspective of Child Science entails realigning and linking the disciplines directly or indirectly related to this issue and creating a new scientific paradigm to grasp this problem a new in a way that departs from conventional viewpoints. It is synonymous with thinking about children from the perspective of Human Science. In so far as children as born as biological beings and raised as social beings and the declining birthrate has both biological and social factors, Child Science must at least bring together the natural sciences, in particular, medicine and biology, and the human sciences, especially, sociology and cultural anthropology. And with more forums like the Japanese Society of Child Science where people from diverse disciplines and professions can discuss these issues, I am certain that a new paradigm will emerge.

The declining birthrate is clearly due to the decreased incidence of marriage and childbirth in the next generation. Marriage and childbirth are biological aspects of human existence, and married life and child raising are strongly affected by social factors. These biological aspects of human existence are linked to programs in the human brain which have developed over the course of human evolution and operate according to information gained from daily life. Information consists of logical information and sensitive information, but it has been established that the latter has a strong influence on the biological aspects of human existence. Simply creating more day care facilities, disbursing child allowances, and other such government efforts have not halted the declining birthrate, and no doubt, this can be attributed to a lack of sensitive information with a positive and caring message in our society today. This is why professionals, researchers, and other specialists must tackle the problem of the declining birthrate from a stance that includes issues of child abuse, child raising, and day care and out of a common concern for the next generation.

The falling birthrate is a human phenomenon and occurs in affluent societies. As such, it is seen in other advanced industrialized countries and those that have undergone rapid industrialization. It seems that the programs of the brain that operate the biological aspects of human life do not function as smoothly amid the information overflow, busy lives, and weakening relationships of our contemporary society. The starting point for everything then is returning to a caring society.

Clearly, Child Science has an important role to play in identifying the causes of the declining birthrate and formulating countermeasures. Better parenting, child rearing, day care, and education are also the goals of Child Science. CRN has been advocating Child Science for the past decade and now with the establishment of the Institute for Child Sciences, Parenting, and Aging within Benesse Corporation, we will make Child Science the center of our efforts from the above stance.
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