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Japanese city manager tells employees to “play around” to fix birth rate issue

April 6, 2021 , by Dr Julian Northbrook

“Japanese city manager gives speech telling new employees to “play around” to fix birth rate issue”

That was a headline in Soranews24, a news site that publishes Asian news in English. Honestly, the headline was bizarre enough I checked to see if it was Fake news.

It’s not from what I can tell.

According to Soranews24, Mr Shimura said:

“I’d like you to play around as much as you can. And not just play around in groups of men, or groups of women, that’s easy. I want you to play around with the opposite sex. If you do that, then I think maybe the birth rate problem will go away a little bit.”

He then continued with:

“I have a special request for the men. I know we’re always told about gender equality and equal gender participation, but when it comes to playing around, I’d like it if the men made the effort to ask out the women.”


For context, Japan has a birth rate problem.

There are a lot of people in older generations, but comparatively fewer people are having kids. And this is causing a load of economic problems, not least that tons of money is going out of pension funds right now, but very little going back in.

But still.

Play around to fix the problem?



As a guy I guess I can see the appeal. Not that I’d be much help in increasing any birth rate now, as I couldn’t have kids even if I wanted to (I had the snip just over a year ago).

Typically though, this is an example of a fix — a bizarre one not to be taken seriously, to be sure, but an example all the same — for a surface-level problem without looking to the deeper, underlying problem.

Fewer people have kids in Japan because it’s a logistical nightmare. Working hours are very long, daycare hard to get. For many women having kids is synonymous with ending their career.

So yeah.

Playing around probably isn’t the solution.

Just like I can say with a high level of certainty that learning yet more grammar and memorising yet more vocabulary probably isn’t the solution to your English problems. Again, you’re looking at a surface level problem and ignoring the deeper root cause.

Enrolment for the May MEFA start is slowly but surely filling.

If you want a place, go here:


After you enrol, I recommend you go straight to your bonuses (which I’ll send you immediately after you enrol) and study the two-hour seminar I did in Taipei last year — it goes into these “deeper root problems” and talks about what you need to do to fix them.

Dr Julian Northbrook

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