The New York Times has just published an essay blissful in its lack of context or statistical rigor (Link). It seems rural Japan is getting depopulated, young persons are leaving for the cities and the median age is getting perilously high.
As is the case in North Dakota. As it is in rural just about everywhere in the industrialized world. And not a few countries of the not-so-industrial world too.
As for the childcare availability problem mentioned which is somehow depressing fertility, the government has been making headway on this problem every year, cutting down the number of children on waiting lists for public day care centers despite massive year-on-year increases in demand (Link). The government's buildout is indeed hammering private daycare providers. In the TMD, the move by private railways, with their huge landholdings, into the daycare business likely to drive the last of the small independent providers out of business.
The interplay in between attitudes and reality regarding women, childbearing and work is complicated, and growing more so, rather than less. The Cabinet Office's roughly triennial "Survey on Social Participation of Men and Women" (Danjo kyodo sanka shakai in kan suru yoron chosa) released today finds a major reversal in the long-term trend as regards the statement, "The husband should be out working; the wife should taking care of the home." From 1992, the year of the first of these surveys, to 2009, the percentage of respondents agreeing with that statement declined with every survey. However, in the 2012 survey, the percentage of respondent agreeing with the statement jumped -- up to a level not seen in 15 years (Link - J).
The shocker is the shift in the attitudes of the 20-29 age cohort since the 2009 survey. Whereas the youngest cohort was the age cohort the least likely to agree with the statement in 2009 (37.3% as compared to all ages figure of 41.7%) in 2012 it comes in second only to the cohorts over 60 years of age (50.0% as compared to the all ages figure of 51.6%). In both cases, the 50-59 age cohort has been the least likely to agree the statement (Link -J)
Amaterasu bless you, you children of the 1960s.
The denial of economic reality by the youngest age cohort is repeated in the responses to the statement "It is all right for women to continue working even if they have children." In between 2009 and 2012, the percentage of respondents in the 20-29 age cohorts agreeing with the statement fell from 46.4% to 39.1%, even as the figures for all cohorts moved in the opposite direction (45.9% in 2009 and 47.5% in 2012).
Looks like the echo boomers are a little bit spoiled. Suffice it to say that it is harder to wake up if you keep your eyes closed.