By Takaomi Takahashi
Japan has a serious population problem. We are now becoming famous not only for longevity but also for a dramatically declining birth rate. As it stands, the aged population (over 65 years old) represents more than 25% of Japan. It is predicted that the aged population rate will continue to increase.
Decreasing total population was observed for the first time since the beginning of the national census last February. Despite attempts by officials to remedy the issue, there have been no signs of improvement.
Meanwhile, there is another controversy in Japan. The problem is the thousands of children on waiting lists for nursery school. There are over 23,000 children on waiting lists in Japan, meaning that parents (usually mothers) must stay home with their children. The lack of child care might be an obstacle to empowering women who want to return to work after childbirth. The seemingly opposite problems– an aged society and excess demands for nursery school– are indicators that Japan is in need of change.
Both of parents must be able to work for economic reasons, but it is difficult to establish new nursery schools because of strict criteria for validation and insufficient supply of teachers.
I think that volunteer work could solve this problem. Needless to say, it would be an effective solution in the short term to supply nursery school services as a volunteer. And also volunteers share a passion for helping others, which is essential when working with young children. If people recognize the problem and work together to solve it, the world might become a better place. In this case, I hope people recognize how low the salary if for nursery teachers in Japan and work to change it.
The Japanese government has already recognized the aging population problem long ago, but we have yet to solve this serious problem affecting thousands of children. The nursery school problem is not specific to Japan; these kinds of challenges will occur in other countries in the very near future, if they haven’t happened already. Therefore to tackle the Japanese problem will be meaningful not only for Japan but also for other countries all over the world. I am now tackling with these problems with the Keio Program for Leading Graduate Schools in Japan. If you are interested in joining me in finding a solution, please contact and discuss with us.