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Japan now has a “birthrate czar,” Katsunobu Kato, who is tasked with urging women to become pregnant to stabilize Japan’s population at about 100 million as it falls from a current ~125 million. In 2015, Kato oversaw about 32 billion dollars of public funding to stabilize the birthrate at a sub-replacement level of 1.8 children per woman, using a variety of interventions. According to Kato, the government envisions a less populous Japan, but one where “all Japanese people and people of all ages and sexes–including those who have failed… can dream and hope to create a society heading forward.”

Some are asking why Japan is investing so much in creating additional people rather than investing in the children and adults that are there now. When pressed, Kato cited economic growth rates as the reason for massive investment. But are there values other than economic growth rates that should also be considered? What about restoring the nonhuman world, investing more individualized attention in each child, and creating communities small enough and with enough in common for people to feel connected to one another? That sounds good to us.

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