Japan's Population Crisis

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Japan is facing a de-population crisis. Birth rates have be dropping since the economic boom of the 1970s, and the drop in birth rates is accelerating. Actual population is now around 127 million, but at current rates of decline is expected to drop to 100 million by the middle of this century, and by the start of the next century, to around 40-50 million people. In addition, Japan has the longest life-expectancy in the world, and its “pensioners” are growing as the workers who support them in their later years are declining rapidly. Sixty years ago, there were about eleven workers to support each pensioner; today there are only two. Japan’s current debt load is higher than Greece’s debt, and that could ultimately result in major economic issues. Sakanaka Hidenori, in his Immigration Battle Diary, urges Japan to consider the options available to address the population issue and its economic repercussions. He argues that they can either stay the course and prepare for the changes this will cause, or change immigration policy and prepare for the cultural ramifications of that decision. The video, No Sex Please, We’re Japanese takes a somewhat alarmist approach to talking about the population crisis in Japan. The film begins with images of empty schools and empty playgrounds no longer needed because there are no children in the area. There are fewer children because people are delaying marriage or not marrying at all, only 2% of children in Japan are born out of wedlock, and the frequency of sex among citizens has declined to the point where only 27% have sex every week. According to the video, obsession with manga, anime, and video games has moved some people to satisfy their interpersonal needs virtually. The Otaku, nerds and geeks ... ... middle of paper ... ..., manga, anime, virtual lives, socializing, vacationing, etc. It’s not that the Japanese people have resolved to avoid sexual contact, but it is the case that many young people are finding gratification elsewhere. Declining birth rates are likely due to the fact that people have more choices now – even in Japan – than they did before the 1970s when this decline first started. Japanese women see the choices open to people in more liberal countries like the US, and are making those choices too. Also, the availability of a broad range of birth control methods that made it simple and easy to defer pregnancy kind of coincides with the start of this decline. I think the decline is more a reflection of the choices a modern society provides, and the consequences of those choices in decisions to focus on career first and family later. We see this in most developed nations.

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