Japan's Pampered Pet Set

The country's human population may be on a downward spiral, but pet ownership is up, along with businesses to coddle the little critters

Economists talk plenty about Japan's demographic challenges—and with good reason. Japan's women give birth to just 1.3 children on average during their lifetimes—among the lowest rates in the world—while the number of kids under 15 has shrunk from 19.7 million in 1996 to 17.5 million last year. Yet while modern strife is deterring many Japanese from raising kids in large numbers, that doesn't mean people feel the same way about keeping pets.

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