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Publication Date : 04-02-2014
Japan is not an easy place to raise children, according to 64 per cent of respondents to a Yomiuri Shimbun opinion poll, marking a drop of 12 percentage points in the rate of respondents who felt the same way eight years ago.
In the latest poll, 93 per cent of respondents said they were alarmed by the declining birthrate.
According to the poll conducted on January 18-19, the rate of those who believe Japan is a good place to give birth and raise children jumped by 13 points to 35 per cent from a similar poll conducted in 2006.
The results are seen to reflect a deepening acceptance and understanding across society of working mothers, as well as fathers assuming child-rearing responsibilities.
The survey covered 3,000 eligible voters nationwide, randomly selected from 250 locations. Interviews were carried out face-to-face, and 1,522 people gave valid responses, for a response rate of 51 per cent. Forty-six of the respondents were male and 54 per cent were female.
In answer to the question of what a two-income family should do when they have a baby, 59 per cent said both husband and wife should take turns using child care leave from work, far exceeding the rate at 23 per cent of those who said only wives should do so. Eight per cent of respondents thought wives should quit their job.
Fifty-five per cent said they did not support the idea of trimming social security spending for the aged for such programs as elderly care service and pensions, using the funds instead to improve day care and child care leave systems. Thirty-eight said they agreed. In 2006, 47 per cent of respondents disagreed while 46 per cent agreed.
Meanwhile, 93 per cent of respondents said the declining birthrate and a subsequent decrease in the numbers of children are a matter of a grave concern for the future.
In answer to a multiple-response question asking where the central and local governments should focus their efforts to deal with the declining birthrate, 49 per cent said they should support people who leave work for childbirth and child rearing in their searches for reemployment, up from 48 per cent from 2006. Forty-two per cent called for more day care centres, up from 26 per cent.