Thecoronavirus pandemic has worsened Japan’s already worrying population decline.
Recent statistics from Japan’s ministry of internal affairs show that there were just 14.93 million children aged 14 or younger on April 1, a decline of 190,000 on the same date a year ago and the lowest annual figure since 1950.
In contrast to Japan’s dwindling birth rate, household pets are on the rise.
There are some 20 million cats and dogs registered across the country, and an additional 60,000 pets joined households in 2020, according to the Japan Pet Food Association.
Chris Dunn, an executive of the Japan branch of the Pet Planet food company, says that demand for pets has soared since the Japanese government declared the first state of emergency in April last year.
“There has been a clear increase in sales in the last year and that can only be because more people are buying dogs and cats. They are willing to spend money on giving them the best food available,” Dunn told DW, adding that sales have been “even better” in the last 12 months.
‘Boredom’ and ‘loneliness’ drive pet sales
For Dunn, the reasons behind the uptick in pet sales are quite clear.
“For the last year, people have had to spend a lot of time at home and very quickly they have become both bored and lonely,” he said. “They wanted some sort of distraction and, at the same time, companionship — a pet is the perfect solution to those problems.”
Dunn says dogs also give families opportunities to go outside and get some exercise.