Last year, for the first time, sales of adult diapers in Japan exceeded those for babies.
My teenage daughter likes to refer to Japan as the "Land of WTF?", but while there can be made here a joke of those in the Adult Baby/Diaper Lover lifestyle, that is not the case. That the adult diapers are sold more than baby diapers is an indication of a population that is rapidly becoming lop-sided, with the number of senior citizens growing while the birth rate sharply declines.
And that is bad news for a culture. According to academics, there are only 16.6 million children in Japan with one disappearing every 100 seconds. A low birth rate means there will be no one to change the nappies of the grandparents . . . much less buy them.
What is to blame? There is not one factor that sticks out - so no quick and easy cures - but it seems that my daughter's description might hold a key. "Virtual," on-line friendships are more important than traditional marriage. The cost of living is great but what must be figured into that is also what drives the cost of living and in a society of rampant consumerism, with more emphasis placed on the technical Apple than the human egg, the "status quo" may be quite hard to maintain.
Surprisingly, there appears to be a lack of interest in sex among Japanese youth. Oh, there is no lack of porn, but when you live with 24/7 access to "anything goes" in a virtual world - and if you don't know what I am talking about, Google "hentai" - the "real thing" pales in comparison to what the images and mind can conjure . . . so why bother?
Here in America, just a month ago the Census Bureau reported that the U.S. birth rate was down for the fourth year in a row. I don't think anyone has checked the sale figures on Depends vs. Pampers, but I suspect the same factors are at play along with what Blessed Pope John Paul II called the "culture of death." Our replacement rate is still at about 2, meaning every one adult is replaced by two children - and, I regret, I have not done my part with only two kids to show for my efforts - but as more and more social services become "rights," it remains to be seen whether that will be enough to pay for the population.
Maybe Obamacare death panels will relieve us of "burdens." Perhaps someone like Jay Leno or David Letterman can make a joke about the opening factoid - but it points to a serious problem.