Japan’s birthrate is among the lowest in the industrialized world, with around 1.27 babies born per female compared with 1.39, 1.59, 1.82 and 2.1 for Germany, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. As the number of children decline, causing schools to be closed and repurposed into more general community centers, more and more Japanese seem to be turning to something furrier: dogs. The number of dogs kept as pets has really shot up over the past decade, and every time I go shopping on the weekends I see a dozen or so animals in carts going shopping with their owners, usually being treated with a ridiculous amount of love and pampering. Pet ownership is rising so fast that as of 2007 the country’s dog population officially surpassed the number of human children. While dogs are the preferred pet, with dachshunds, chihuahuas and shiba dogs among the most popular breeds, Japanese families love their cats, too. (We could never choose between the two, so we have both.) By the way, if you’re a fan of kawaii dogs or cute cats, J-List has some cute products you might want to check out.
With fewer children, Japan turns to puppies.