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Rental "relatives" are available for sparsely attended wedding parties; so-called "babyloids" -- furry dolls that mimic infant sounds -- are being developed for lonely seniors; and Japanese researchers are at the forefront of efforts to build robots that resemble human babies. The younger generation includes millions of so-called "parasite singles" who still live with (and off) their parents, and perhaps hundreds of thousands of the "hikikomori"--"young adults," Eberstadt writes, "who shut themselves off almost entirely by retreating into a friendless life of video games, the Internet and manga (comics) in their parents' home."

Incredible Shrinking Country
There are "babyloids" and relatives-for-rent in an increasingly childless Japan.

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