The good life in Japan goes to the dogs

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In a smart and expensive neighbourhood of Tokyo, Toshiko Horikoshi relaxes by playing her grand piano. She’s a successful eye surgeon, with a private clinic, a stylish apartment, a Porsche and two pet pooches: Tinkerbell, a chihuahua, and Ginger, a poodle.

Some of Japan's pampered pet dogs. / Alamy / Guardian

“Japanese dog owners think a dog is like a child,” says Horikoshi. “I have no children, so I really love my two dogs.” Many Japanese women like Horikoshi prefer pets to parenthood.

Startlingly, in a country panicking over its plummeting birthrate, there are now many more pets than children. While the birthrate has been falling dramatically and the average age of Japan‘s population has been steadily climbing, Japan has become a pet superpower. Official estimates put the pet population at 22 million or more, but there are only 16.6 million children under 15. SEE COMPLETE TEXT.

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