Low birth rate and an aging population are the major challenges that Japan has to face today. With a fertility rate that barely exceeds 1,46 and with 26% of its population above 65 years old, Japan’s society is going through a fundamental and inevitable structural transformation. This makes it a setting for experimental solutions that might inspire other societies with aging populations in Asia and beyond.
The mechanical causes – celibacy, advanced maternal age (AMA), economic uncertainty – are already well studied. The society’s transformation has also been described statistically, in a demographic approach. However, to fully grasp the object under study, « population », it is essential to also analyse the cultural, socio-historical and biopolitical causes that led to a low birth rate that was both intended and expected in the immediate post-war period. In particular, it is necessary to consider it in the context of the state’s incessant intervention in the field of reproduction: Natalism, then neo-Malthusianism, with the parallel reinforcement of eugenics after the defeat of 1945. On the other hand, the continuous increase since 2005 of the fertility rate (+ 15% between 2005 and 2016) poses analytical challenges and shows, among aother things, that the situation should be adressed on a finer scale.
Comparable issues of low birth rates and the condition of women and mothers are found throughout the rest of Asia, particularly South Korea, Taiwan and China. This project will thus be used to initiate thematic work on this subject for the entire area covered by the Research Unit.
Research concerning the evolution of political measures is abundant, yet it seems necessary to redefine the subject and look at it in from a broader perspective. For example, the project will examine the impact of the population’s transformations on ethnic, social or sexual minorities. To what extent can we talk about a restructuring of Japanese society? Do these challenges turn into opportunities for new forms of solidarity, diversified identities, citizenship, representations or norms? In what way do these arise from local patterns or rather reflect the insertion of the archipelago in a globalised world? In this way, the project proposes to study the dynamics of social change, both instigated and/or spontaneous, that go hand in hand with such major demographic and social issues, yet without losing sight of the political measures that support or oppose them.
Planned scientific activities and publications: the team will organise three workshops per year between 2019 et 2021, an international symposium in 2022 with the publication of the proceedings in a collective work or an academic journal in 2023.
( CADIS, Paris University)
Pauline Cherrier (IrAsia, Aix-Marseille University)
Noémi Godefroy (IFRAE, Inalco)
Mélanie Hours (IFRAE, Toulouse Jean Jaurès University)
Isabelle Konuma (IFRAE, Inalco)
Naoko Tokumitsu (IFRAE)
Sarah Terrail-Lormel (IFRAE)