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Japan Earth

Japan's Population Falls At Fastest Rate Since 1968 295

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Japan's population, excluding resident foreigners, fell at the beginning of this year at its fastest pace since comparable figures were kept in 1968, highlighting the demographic challenge to economic growth. As of Jan. 1, the number of Japanese people fell by a record 308,084 from a year earlier to 125,583,658, marking the eighth consecutive year of declines, government data showed Wednesday. The number of births fell 2.9 percent from the previous year ago to 981,202, the lowest since comparable data became available in 1974. People aged 65 or older accounted for 27.2 percent of the total population, the highest ratio on record, while the ratio of those aged 14 or younger fell to a record low of 12.7 percent, the data showed. The number of registered foreign residents increased to 2,323,428, up 6.9 percent from a year earlier, according to the data.
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Japan's Population Falls At Fastest Rate Since 1968

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 05, 2017 @11:43PM (#54753691)

    This has really got to do with Japanese women's roles in society and opportunities.

    Japanese society says to Japanese women you can either have a child or a career . Seems Japanese woman are choosing a Career.
      The times are a changing my friend.....

  • by ErichTheRed ( 39327 ) on Thursday July 06, 2017 @12:40AM (#54753947)

    As a father of 2 kids, I've performed my evolutionary duty. :-) However, there are plenty of younger people in the US who aren't, and in my opinion they're being somewhat rational. Having kids is a big risk unless you just don't give a crap -- they cost a lot of money and you have to be much more careful about maintaining your income and savings than if you were on your own. Millenials are also skipping traditional adult rites of passage like marriage, house-buying, etc. that lay the groundwork for a family. Plus, those that do have kids are having fewer, later. Generally, people are less religious, have heard of birth control, and are less worried about child mortality, therefore less inclined to have "spare" children.

    Japan has a few things that are really slowing their birthrate - almost zero permanent immigration, a very slow economy for the last 20 years, a traditional society that says women can have either children or a career but not both, and a reputation for a workaholic culture. People are just so busy spending their lives at work so they can keep their jobs that having a family comes second. This is a big reversal from the 1980s/1990s...I remember growing up hearing that Japan was taking over the world. MBA programs were toying with the idea of making Japanese language study a requirement if I remember correctly. This is similar to what China is doing now, but China has the population to sustain it in my opinion.

    We in the US could be headed down this road too. Imagine if we close the borders and enter a period of economic stagnation. Couple this with the trend towards unstable employment, the gig economy, etc. Back in the 50s/60s, a man could count on being employed for life by a large US company and would take on the risk of a family, kids, house, car, etc. Now (IMO) we've let the pendulum swing too far back in favor of employers and removed any loyalty/stability either side had to the other. Hopefully people will realize that they want stability again once this Second Dotcom Bubble bursts and takes many of the sharing economy employers with it.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Replacement level is actually 2.1 children per I'm afraid you fell short.
    • by quenda ( 644621 )

      Unlike Japan, the US is not severely overpopulated.
      You folks have plenty of room to move, while Japanese people are crowded into small amounts of useful land between mountains, which they have been known to level to get new land. Japanese population decline is no tragedy. They can afford to import guest labour in future if needed to care for the elderly.

      • Unlike Japan, the US is not severely overpopulated.

        Japan is not overpopulated. They've made the decision (collectively) to move everyone into cities. The Tokyo-Hiroshima region has a lot of people, but the rest is full of open space.

        • by quenda ( 644621 )

          Going into google maps/earth, I see a country covered in mountains, with villages and intensive farming crowded into every crevice between the mountains.
          My Australia is said to be the second-most urbanised country after Japan, but our cities more resemble Los Angeles than Tokyo. ie sprawl.

        • Japan is not overpopulated

          Japan imports approximately sixty percent of its food and around eighty percent of its energy (in the form of fuels.) By my definition, if a nation can't feed itself, including energy consumption, it's overpopulated. You can make up your own definitions if you like, though. M-W defines it as "the condition of having a population so dense as to cause environmental deterioration, an impaired quality of life, or a population crash". Japan mostly externalizes its environmental deterioration; Japan itself is som

      • Unlike Japan, the US is not severely overpopulated.

        That's not relevant to the problem of an ageing society.

    • Millenials are also skipping traditional adult rites of passage like marriage, house-buying, etc.

      Buying a house is a problem because housing prices have risen too much. "Settling down" (getting married and such) is a lot harder if you don't have a house. When you have a house, you can start getting things you like and have places to put them. If you're planning on moving too much, acquiring assets is a net negative because you have to move them.

    • by Xest ( 935314 ) on Thursday July 06, 2017 @02:59AM (#54754455)

      The only reason it's even a problem is because most Western economies are built on the next generation funding the increasingly extravagant lifestyles of the last.

      So when problems like this attempt to be tackled, by say, cutting the amount of free shit old people get (i.e. by removing free bus passes, and TV licenses as well as a couple of hundred quid free money for heating from millionaire pensioners) we get absurd arguments like "I paid for it", but given that there's no money to fund it that's evidence enough that they have not in fact paid for it.

      Reduction in population is probably a good thing overall, it reduces pressure on the planet's resources, it reduces competition for wealth and resources reducing conflict, and it it generally just creates greater sustainability - we don't need to build as much, we don't need to harvest as much, and in an increasingly roboticised nation like Japan the loss of labour needn't be a problem.

      But economies have to change to cater to shrinking populations, and that means older generations getting what they actually paid for, rather than expecting the next generation to pay for what they think the world owes them, which is politically difficult given that those generations are typically most likely to vote because when you're sat around with nothing to do all day you have ample time to do so.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        we get absurd arguments like "I paid for it", but given that there's no money to fund it that's evidence enough that they have not in fact paid for it.

        Not necessarily. Some times it's that the politicians use the money for other crap.

        My grandfather had a retirement saving account. At some point the government realized that there were lots of money in those retirement savings accounts, so they socialized the pension system, moving all that money into the state budget. They then went on to spend the money, and instead used the money from the next generation to pay back the previous generation.

        Now we also have shrinking generations (though not as much as Jap

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        It's mostly the baby boomer generation at fault here. They were exceptionally irresponsible, financially, socially and with the environment. And they have a massive sense of entitlement, especially to property and the wealth it represents. They think they did well because they are worth half a million quid, even though most of that is tied up in the house that younger people could never afford now.

        When you point out things like the environmental damage that we are now having to pay to fix, they say "it was

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Bingo. The main problem in Japan is that having children is unattractive. It's extremely expensive, often living space is limited, and it can really damage the mother's career.

    • by nnet ( 20306 )
      Which people "want stability again"? I'm genuinely curious. I've always wanted it. I'm willing to bet the majority of adults also do.
    • I think it is pretty simple. Most developed countries have declining birth rates to the point of population decline, this is for a variety of reasons, many of which you mention. Japan might be slightly worse for a few cultural reasons, but not by much likely. However most developed countries augment their population loss with immigration, typically from less developed countries which have less of those factors and thus a higher birthrate. As someone mentioned in a post Japan culturally is also pretty xenoph

  • by Anonymous Coward

    And don't compel them to assimilate or work! That'll take care of Japans problems!

  • I have 5 children (Score:5, Interesting)

    by FeelGood314 ( 2516288 ) on Thursday July 06, 2017 @12:46AM (#54753975)
    If you want to have a replacement rate of 2.3 children per woman some women will need to have at least 3 kids. I'm lucky, my ex and I had excellent educations and very good jobs. However in Canada having more than 2 kids is in many ways an exception and there are lots of little things that are surprisingly biased against families larger than 4. I've seen in some cities that are more dog friendly than kid friendly and when they do have facilities or policies for small children it is for one child. So if most western countries require a woman to start a career before having children then the number of women having them will go down, if women are discourage from having their first child until after 30 it gets worse and if you make it difficult or almost weird for women to have more than 1 or 2 children then it's pretty much mathematically impossible to maintain a population without large amounts of immigration.

    Also at some point our health care system started spending the majority of its money on people in their last 18 months of life. There are a lot of other wealth transfers from the young to older generations, house prices, government debt... There is likely some tipping point were the share of the economy that is given to 18 - 30 year olds becomes so small that they don't feel secure enough to start a family. My suspicion is that most western countries crossed that point a while ago.
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Problem is you will always get the rationalists bleating on about how having a womb makes women worth less than men to an employer, and how children are a lifestyle choice, and why should they pay to school other people's offspring... While also complaining about immigration.

      It won't be until it's far too late that they realize there are not enough young people around and they personally are fucked by it. It takes 25+ years to make a doctor, minimum.

  • It's really only the big end of town that worries about population decline.

    Japan is horribly expensive to live in, and the Japanese would rather have a smaller population that let hordes of foreigners in.
    The youth growing up can't afford to own their own home of any decent size, and so they've given up on home ownership and spend all their money on frivolous things. Having a family is not on anyone's bucket list, and abortion is rife.

    Japan was ahead of the curve until the west finally caught up.

  • Not sure how yet, but somehow robots will be involved in the solution.

  • A Failed System (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rossz ( 67331 ) <{ogre} {at} {}> on Thursday July 06, 2017 @01:10AM (#54754121) Homepage Journal

    You spend your entire school life studying your ass off. You aren't supposed to do much outside of school except study. Having a relationship is discouraged to the extreme.

    Then you get a job where you work 12 to 16 hours a day, 7 days a week. You have no time to actually meet someone so the odds of having a relationship are slim. Added bonus. Your boss will treat you like shit. Everything you do will be criticized. I guess it's some mistaken belief that you'll work even harder.

    On the unlikely event you find and marry someone at work, she has to quit her job and have babies. You get to keep working 12 to 16 hours a day, 7 days a week. So if, by some miracle, you have children, you'll never see them.

    No wonder young people are rejecting the entire social system and hiding from the world or committing suicide.

    • Re:A Failed System (Score:5, Informative)

      by bluegutang ( 2814641 ) on Thursday July 06, 2017 @05:39AM (#54754803)

      You must know that it's not typical for people to work 12 to 16 hours a day, 7 days a week...

    • All we need is hard work myth.
      Success comes from hard work, but it also comes from being smart, creative, efficient, lucky and knowing the right people.
      America and Asia are stuck on the Hard Work = success and failure means you didn't work hard enough.
      Our value as a human being isn't based on how much money we have or what we do. Just because we are willing to do a job that is hard to fill.
      Our value is based on how we handle our lives.
      If you are working flipping burgers. You probably made dozens of people

  • My neighbor, Robert Klark Graham, founder of the 'Nobel Sperm Bank' had a favorite slogan: "The smarter you are, the more children you should have." He would publish that as an advert in various Mensa publications. I attended some of his talks which were always uplifting and positive, but I never heard him mention the corollary to his slogan. (i.e. 'what about other people?')

    In any case, we seem to have got that obvious evolutionary lesson backward. Certain populations reproduce like bunnies while the smart

    • Normally the stereotype smart guy not getting the girl. Is due to some other flaws not because they are smart.
      However family planning is a new concept where it makes more personal economic since to have less children then more, while good for the economy on a large scale. However right now we are faced with overpopulation as a stresser too. We cannot afford to use up the resources faster then they can be made and we need to preserve for the next generation.

    • I don't claim to have the answer, other than just my own opinion. That said, I think it's somewhat of a positive thing that more intelligent populations are wise enough to have fewer children. It acts as a form of self-balancing in population control. A numerical "thermostat" if you will. Eventually, children of poorer populations will become educated enough to also have fewer children in the proceeding generations to come. My big gripe is that children of course suffer needlessly in the process. So while t

  • Good for them (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rrohbeck ( 944847 )

    They seem to be the only country that's adapting to mineral and energy depletion. Other countries will have a rude awakening in a couple of years.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Because all people are exactly the same, and Somalia is exactly the same as Japan.

  • by Subm ( 79417 ) on Thursday July 06, 2017 @07:51AM (#54755203)

    The rest of the world could learn from their example and allow the earth's population to drop naturally.

    Instead everyone falls back on knee-jerk beliefs that

    - We need exponentially growing economies, which require exponentially growing populations, which are impossible to sustain on a finite planet

    - Going to Mars will somehow alleviate overpopulation on Earth

    - Populations are leveling off, which isn't related to the problem that we are over the planet's carrying capacity, drawing down and depleting resources

    - Too few young people won't be able to support older ones, despite increases in productivity that allow 2% of the population to do what used to take 25%, to use the example of farming

    - Lowering the population means eugenics or racism

    - Human nature [insert opinion about human nature]

    - Fusion or some other technology will save us (without population control it extends the overshoot leading to collapse)

    - etc

    All of the above beliefs are demonstrably wrong. There's no reason we can't allow the population to decrease without hurting anyone or any economy by simply having fewer children. Everyone would live in a world of more abundance per person. There would be as much culture as before and the species' chances of survival would increase.

    The challenge is doing it. Step one is disabusing ourselves of the above beliefs.

    • Learn from them? I virtually all western countries birth rates have declined so much that population would be reducing were not for inmigration. Nonetheless, there's lots of poor people in the world that want to go to those countries.
      It's widely known birth rate reduces with the increase of the standards of living. Right now population growth is mainly driven by India and Africa. India looks like it will stabilize in the medium term, Africa doesn't look good in the near future.
      To sum up, many countries ha
    • The rest of the world could learn from their example and allow the earth's population to drop naturally.

      Except that's not what Japan is doing. They're trying various things to try to get their population to stop falling. Of course, they're trying everything but admitting that their make-work culture is bullshit...

    • - Going to Mars will somehow alleviate overpopulation on Earth

      Going to Mars is meant to prevent rapid underpopulation of Earth the next time a major disaster occurs, it wont do anything for overpopulation.

Nothing is finished until the paperwork is done.