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IS JAPAN CAUGHT IN COLLEGE BOOM, BIRTHRATE BUST?

Japanese women have too much education and too few babies, the nation's finance minister reportedly told his fellow Cabinet members Tuesday.

During a Cabinet discussion on Japan's falling birthrate, Ryutaro Hashimoto blamed the trend on women's increasing tendency to seek higher education, according to local news reports.Hashimoto reportedly suggested the government limit access to higher education as a way to reverse the birthrate trend.

Officials in the Finance Ministry deflected inquiries, but an official in the Health and Welfare Ministry, speaking on condition of anonymity, told United Press International the reports were accurate.

Japan, with one of the lowest birthrates in the world, now has only 1.57 children per household. Less than a fifth of the population is under 20, and the proportion is falling steadily.

Conversely, people over 65 make up 11 percent of the population, and that number is expected to double within a decade, presenting the government with massive labor and social services problems.

Women's college enrollment has more than doubled in the last 20 years to 37 percent. Many are choosing to delay childbirth into their 30s.

However, making the choice is not always easy. With the pill banned as a means of contraception, condoms and abortions represent the main forms of birth control in Japan.