Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)


Asian Studies

First Advisor's Name

Dr. Steven Heine

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Dr. Amy Bliss Marshall

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Dr. Hitomi Yoshio

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


Japan, women, birth rate

Date of Defense



For the past twenty-five years, Japan’s population decline has been a domestic and global concern. A common discourse on the issue of Japan’s low birth rate tends to focus on the role of women, specifically indicating that women should change their behavior to prioritize motherhood. This thesis argues that Japan’s low birth rate is the result of a nexus of social and economic influences that are experienced in contemporary society. In order to provide a nuanced analysis of the influences on a woman’s childbearing decision, motivators of and challenges to population growth will be explored. The dynamic struggle that women experience from the internalized stress of deciding about childbearing while coping with external factors from the community, government, and corporate sector is divided into four categories. The conditions caused by the interaction of these different factors contributes to consistent decline in the birth rate.





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