Lowest-low fertility in Japan: consequences for a once-great nation.
lowest-low fertility, Japan, liberalism, new conservatism, nationalism
Japan, once a great economic superpower, is currently one of a number of countries experiencing lowest-low fertility, having a total fertility rate of less than 1.5. This demographic figure exists alongside two decades of low economic growth, undermining confidence in national integrity and longevity. The association of low growth and lowest-low fertility has provoked a contest between two visions for national rejuvenation - one an old and increasingly discredited liberalism, and the second, a new demographic conservatism. Japan's debate is not new or unique. Questioning the methods for national replacement and the relationship between fertility and national integrity remains a crucial aspect of nationalism in a globalized world. In the Japanese context, the contest is between two visions for the nation - on the one hand, a cautious nationalism with attendant liberal proclivities; on the other a more conservative vision for the role of women in the family and civic duties. The election of the Democratic Party of Japan (DJP) in 2009 saw fertility issues prominent in the election campaign. Nonetheless, recapturing the lost economic greatness and the role of fertility in definitions of Japanese nationalism remain unresolved and controversial issues.