June 5, 2005


Toys Without Children: Demographic Suicide (BreakPoint with Charles Colson, March 14, 2005)

According to a recent Associated Press story, Japanese “toymakers are designing new dolls . . . not for the young but for the lonely elderly.” These dolls are “companions which can sleep next to them and offer caring words they may never hear otherwise.”

The dolls, called Yumel in Japanese, have a vocabulary of 1,200 phrases. The makers are marketing Yumel not as toys but as “healing partners” for elderly Japanese.

Since their limited introduction three months ago, more than 6,000 Yumel have been sold. Some of the customers are so taken with their dolls that it bothers them when they can’t answer the doll’s “questions,” such as, “Why do elephants have long noses?”

The elderly didn’t always need dolls for their loneliness. Once upon a time, they had children and grandchildren.

P. D. James’s novel The Children of Men is set twenty-six years after the last known birth on Earth. In a world without children, dolls have become the object of women’s maternal attention. City streets are filled with women taking their dolls on a stroll. And the anxiety and despair caused by knowing that theirs is likely the last generation of humans shapes the characters’ actions.

The reason for the lack of children in James’s novel is a mystery. But the same can’t be said about Japan. Japan has one of the world’s lowest birthrates, only 1.3 children per woman. (2.1 children is the replacement rate.) This year, Japan’s population may decline for the first time since 1950—and it is a decline that will continue.

It's an exceptionally
good novel--our time's 1984.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 5, 2005 2:35 PM

I thought that society honors the elderly, why are they alone?

Posted by: Sandy P. at June 5, 2005 8:54 PM

Bowing, being polite, and trying to maintain some vestige of tradition are still done; changing diapers and feeding baby food - no.

Posted by: jim hamlen at June 5, 2005 9:37 PM

Almost sad. This is what happens when you bring down a culture. Perhaps Halsey's formula would have been kinder than MacArthur's

Posted by: Lou Gots at June 6, 2005 6:53 PM