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While in Tokyo, I visited an event put on by Zwei, a matchmaking company.
Dozens of women clustered in a small studio to take a cooking class featuring food from Miyazaki Prefecture, in southern Japan.
But there’s another, simpler explanation for the country’s low birth rate, one that has implications for the U.
S.: Japan’s birth rate may be falling because there are fewer good opportunities for young people, and especially men, in the country’s economy.
“Men in this city are not very masculine and they don't want to get married,” Kouta Takada, a Zwei staff member, told me.
A recent survey of Japanese people aged 18 to 34 found that nearly 70 percent of unmarried men and 60 percent of unmarried women aren’t in a relationship.
For the first time since the government started keeping track more than a century ago, there were fewer than 1 million births last year, as the country’s population fell by more than 300,000 people.
Then, as globalization put more pressure on companies to cut costs, they increasingly relied on a temporary workforce, a trend that intensified during the Great Recession.Knowing that people in their 20s and 30s are desperate to get regular jobs, companies hire lots of young people and force them to work long hours for little to no overtime pay, assuming that most won’t be able to survive the harsh conditions, Konno said.Japan has long had a culture of overwork—there’s even a Japanese word, ”—which loosely translates to “dark companies” or “evil corporations”—to describe firms that take advantage of workers in this way. A group of journalists and labor advocates now issue a Burraku Kigyo of the Year award for the company that treats its workers the worst.“Most of them feel that it’s just not a reality.”The surge in irregular jobs doesn’t just create problems for the people working those jobs.It’s also led companies to feel that they can treat their regular workers poorly, because those workers feel so lucky to have a job, Konno told me.