As a native Japanese and with family still living in Japan, I am sad to note that the population there is declining so fast and children are becoming fewer.
I think about my long time in Israel and how different I’ve found things to be here.
For over 30 years now I’ve lived among Israelis and enjoyed the vibrancy of a growing population – with the happy (and sometimes annoying) sound of many children. Is there some guidance that a small country like Israel can offer to a large country like Japan? Perhaps.
When I walk through the streets of Israel, I see a lot of strollers and children. The average per family is about three. I also see fathers taking care of children. It’s a happy sight. At the heart, it’s a happy situation for women in Israel.
They have an equal voice to men and are represented everywhere. There are many women members of parliament. The concept of the ‘working mother’ is greatly accepted and many will work from 8am to 3pm, allowing them time to care for their young families.
The childcare system here is well developed, with many nurseries and kindergartens. The government provides financial assistance for childcare. Babysitters are used a lot and are seen as ‘win-win’. Young parents have some time off and teenagers or young adults can earn money on the side.
In Israel, unlike in Japan, women are not obliged to choose between either a family or a career. They can have both. Of course the close family units also allow grandparents to undertake some childcare tasks.
I believe that a nation’s growth is tied very much to ‘women power’. They are the reproducers, the source of the next generation. Nurturing women is the key. When the cost of having a family is not a major financial issue, when they have the ability to balance a career with having children, many more will choose to do so.
Is the laughter of a child not the most magical sound there can be?