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Ueda-Ballmer Discusses the Issue Facing Japanese Women When Considering Marriage in Foreign Policy

November 1, 2023

Foreign Policy

Michiko Ueda

Michiko Ueda-Ballmer

In June, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced the government’s latest attempt to reverse Japan’s historically low birth rate by pouring funds into child care. But that approach is mostly a continuation of previous—and largely unsuccessful—natalist policies and glosses over the structural factors dissuading young Japanese from getting married and having children: soaring living costs, wage stagnation and acute gender inequality.

It’s not just the desire to have children that’s dwindled. Surveys point to waning interest in relationships and sex, especially among young people. 

Michiko Ueda-Ballmer, associate professor of public administration and international affairs, studies social isolation among Japanese youth and says many young Japanese women would like to get married, “but they simply cannot afford it.” Survey data shows that young people don’t have the financial stability necessary to bill themselves as a viable partner. “The result is that people don’t get married.” 

Read more in the Foreign Policy article, “Cash Can’t Fix Japan’s Fertility Crisis.”

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