Companies have been urged to give their employees more time off to procreate; shops have offered discounts for larger families; and the government has introduced child allowances to lift the birthrate.
Yet try as it may, Japan appears unable to stop its inexorable slide into long-term population decline.
With the global population forecast to reach 9 billion by the middle of the decade, Japan is bucking the trend. Instead, its low birthrate and ageing society are taking the world’s third-biggest economy to the brink of a demographic crisis to which it is struggling to find solutions.
Yotaro cries, giggles, and kicks when you tickle him. He sneezes and his nose runs. When he is upset, his rattle calms him down.
An average baby — sort of — since Yotaro is a robot. His inventors hope he will help Japan’s sagging birth rate, among the lowest in the world.
“A robot can’t be human but it’s great if this robot triggers human emotions, so humans want to have their own baby,” said Hiroki Kunimura, the project leader for the Yotaro robot.
Kunimura and his University of Tsukuba team originally built Yotaro because they wanted to create a robot that would appeal across national and cultural lines. Since a baby doesn’t have any language skills yet, they chose to build a robotic infant.