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Japan should stabilize population at 100 mil by 2060: panel

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Excellent! However, the final 20 million decline will be almost entirely in the ex-urbs/rural areas.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

The panel estimated that if Japan’s total fertility rate—the average number of children born to a woman—recovers to 2.07 in 2030 from the current 1.41 in 2012 and stays at that level, the country’s population will be about 100 million in 2060.

Dream on. Anyone who thinks Japan can increase its fertility rate by 47% in 16 years is simply delusional. We are talking about changing the attitude/behavior of women and men who are already in their teens and early twenties. Not going to happen. They already have become accustomed to a certain culture and aspire to existing lifetsyles. Japan is way passed the tipping point on this.

9 ( +15 / -7 )

The panel estimated that if Japan’s total fertility rate—the average number of children born to a woman—recovers to 2.07 in 2030 from the current 1.41 in 2012 and stays at that level, the country’s population will be about 100 million in 2060.

I agree with Jerseyboy. Although some countries have been successful at raising their fertility rate(i.e France), a 47% raise over 16 years is impossible. We have been hearing this song for years, just like balancing the budget. I remember when I first came to Japan in 2002, Koizumi was supposed to balance the books by 2010! Look forward to another report in 2020 that says Japan must raise its fertility rate to 2.07 by 2040 to keep its population above 90 millions and so on...

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@jersey

The only way that Japan can ever make inroads is to relax a lot of their stringent benign rules and regulations towards men and in particular women. Allow women and give women the option after they have children if they want to work Full or Part time, stop focusing on age 30 is NOT and should not be a workforce death sentence. Give the elderly the option to work longer if they so choose. Give men more better incentives if they have to work longer hours, more time to rest and recuperate, working 12 hours and sometimes 6 days a week is not going to put anyone in the mood to do anything, let alone inspire someone to want to have more children. No one should be a slave to their job, everyone needs a break. But we all know change is hard here and the likelihood of that happening in Japan is almost 0%.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Anyone who thinks Japan can increase its fertility rate by 47% in 16 years is simply delusional.

And how much time took the backward movement?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

And how much time took the backward movement?

Chenchan -- I'm not your statistician. But I can tell you the highest the rate has been since 2000 -- 14 years -- is 1.42. So the 2.07 rate, like much of Japanese policy, is just wishful thinking.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

Agree with jersey boy- impossible. Btw , like always in Japan, panels , discussion groups, experts etc....have been coming up with similar conclusions for and years . They always release their findings and "urge " or " recommend " that government take measures to address the issue " urgently" and that's where it ends. The oyajis then inevitably fail to take any meaningful and effective steps towards actually addressing the issue until another near identical panel is formed to study the issue once again " more thoroughly " and with a matter of urgency" and inevitably comes up with same findings. Repeat ad nausea. The ship has sailed.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

I have faith that with structural reforms (allowing women to have a family and a career, for a start), that they can reach the goal.

If any group of people can come together and reshape their society in a crisis, its the Japanese. Their history is characterized by those moments.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Chenchan -- I'm not your statistician. But I can tell you the highest the rate has been since 2000 -- 14 years -- is 1.42.

And I ask - why are you writing it's impossible when you don't even know or want to know in how much time it went from around 2 to 1,5?

If you listen to young Japanese you'll get an answer - it's all about amount of cash they're being paid. Their parents and grandparents lived in a world where a working adult male could support an entire family (2+2) on his own salary. Nowadays it's usally that male gets 60-80% and women get 40-20% to the home budget. They have to work, don't have enough time to spent on their families and that's it.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

It is a systemic problem and the largely pragmatic Japanese Government is unlikely to change quickly enough or fully enough to achieve those kinds of changes.

I have been in Japan over 6 years now, I am lucky in that I earn a fairly good salary given my age under the Japanese system but I am struggling to understand how I can afford to have a child, let alone two, and bring them up while ever having a hope of buying our own home for example, but stuck paying rents far above mortgage rates in the meantime.. and absolutely ridiculous fees to move to a bigger place.. and there are plenty of people in their mid 30's who earn half what I do... add that to the ridiculous work hour expectations, a lot of which is totally unnecessary, the lack of support for child care, odd ideas about women working, and what work they can do when they are employed..

The Japanese system is based on large companies that support and supplement their employees with housing rebates and so on, wages that increase every year and a job for life.. if thats what you want, but largely that is just a ghost of the past that doesn't really exist anymore..

It isn't one thing that will help, it is large range of sweeping changes both politically and socially.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

“The panel estimated that if Japan’s total fertility rate—the average number of children born to a woman—recovers to 2.07 in 2030 from the current 1.41 in 2012 and stays at that level, the country’s population will be about 100 million in 2060.”

The panel’s projection of Japanese birth rate which will be zooming up from current 1.41 and to a whopping 2.07 in 2030 seems overconfident if not nugatory.

Last Thursday May 8th, Japan Policy Council released a quite different projection. Based on their data, in which 49.8 percent of 1,800 cities, towns and villages across Japan are losing population. Worse, the population of women between 20 to 39 years old will decrease to less than half of what was recorded in 2010 by the year 2040.

Here are two simple factors that affect the Japan’s birthrate: First, childbearing age is the key, 90% of women give birth between 20 -39 years old, secondly, location matters great deal. Japanese childbearing age women took and take the exodus from local municipalities would end up in big cities such as Tokyo or Osaka. None of these two cities or other big cities in Japan are birth-friendly because of the huge cost to raise kids there not to mentions lack of supporting services.

Recently, chairwoman of LDP’s General Council, Seiko Noda, said: with a shrinking birthrate, Japan will not have the numbers for an army in the future. I think she has a good point, but I don't think Abe's admin will do anything that would help reverse the tread. Abe and co. are a bunch of big talkers - good at lip services, but no actions so far on this front. (Even Japan gets rid of article 9, but there are not enough qualified people to serve the SDF, what would be the point ?)

It’s important for Japan’s govt to see the urgency and make right policy reforms to boost sagging birthrate, saving Japan from the point of no-return.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I agree this is a joke. However, I don't think the blame lies just with the government. It lies with the public and their attitudes towards women working after marriage/kids. Japan has on the books pat and mat leave. Very few take it. Companies ignore it and the public doesn't fight for their rights. The government needs to actually punish companies but for that to happen, people need to complain about it.

Men need to get over the attitude that they are the sole breadwinner and in order to look good, they need to stay at the office for silly hours on end looking busy rather than being productive. Women need to stop thinking that it's their god given right to stay at home once they pop out a kid. I teach university first year students and I work at a very good school. Over half of my female students want to "find a handsome, rich man, marry, have kids and not work" - their words, not mine. They're 18 and think this is all their is to life. Who is teaching them this? Their mothers of course. Too bad the economy is crap and the mothers of these girls are doing a huge disservice to them but not giving them a reality check. Most of my male students have said they would like and would be supportive of a wife who works FT and they woudl be willing to help look after kids. We can't fault for the government for this, we can fault the parents and society for allowing women to think marriage is the be all and end all for money security.

Many of the women in my neighborhood have ONE kid - they'd like more but their husband's have said they can't afford it. What do they do while Jr is at kindy? Hang out and complain about money and wanting more kids. You'd think they'd get off their butt and at least get a PT job if they want more money to have another kid but they feel entitled to stay home so... It's hard to feel sorry for the women here when these are very common attitudes to have towards work and marriage.

Add in the lack of daycare - which yes, we can fault the government for - but at the same time, great business opportunities for those women who love kids and who want to work. A small private home room daycare is big business back home but I get the feeling it is too "mendokusai" for women here to do.

3 ( +10 / -7 )

@Ethanwilber It is very important for the govt to make the right reforms, but I fear it's already too late. All we're getting is a lot of this kind of report, telling us nothing of consequence really, certainly nothing new.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Let me suggest a radical and desperate idea. Pay women to have children ... and agree they don't even have to take care of them - they'll be institutionalized (yes, you don't have to tell me institutionalized children have it tough - but if the point is to keep the population up no matter what and you don't really want immigrants and parents really don't want the burden of too many children how many options do you have).

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

But a "Panel" said....

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

A country the size of Japan does not need 100 million people. A third of that would be much better.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

And I ask - why are you writing it's impossible when you don't even know or want to know in how much time it went from around 2 to 1,5?

Chenchan -- and I am telling you, look it up yourself. Because until you know the answer, your argument that it can be reversed is simply foolish talk.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

The Japanese are masters at turning the other way or ignoring the problems when the solutions make them feel uncomfortable. It takes a leap of faith sometimes, and immigration is one example. Stay on the shore and you will sink. This is why I have my reservations about Abenomics, and all of the big talkers. There is an inbuilt conservatism in the national psyche that resists change, even when it would be for the better. I don't think they will be able to act swiftly enough when the need arises to face the challenges of the next 50 or so years. I do hope I'm wrong though, and the next generation will come out swinging.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

In a land where support for pregnant women is so atrocious just having a panel without any solutions won't help.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Simple really all the govt has to do is make it worth while having kids, pay a child allowance to anyone who has children, two or more kids gets a bonus.

Free child care, other tax relief, interest free housing loans, an increase in status to reflect the brave service and sacrifice these people are giving to their country.

Make having kids something attractive that the young want to do then it becomes trendy to have babies, it no longer would be seen as a burden.

I cannot understand why those idjits in power cannot think up simple solutions but just sit on their hands sucking their teeth scratching the dandruff out of their scalp wondering what to do.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

"... but I fear it's already too late. All we're getting is a lot of this kind of report, telling us nothing of consequence really, certainly nothing new."

Bluebris, Are you a pessimist ?:) Put joke aside, although damages have already done in terms of the downward spiral of Japan’s birthrate, I think that it’s not too late to do something for helping reverse the alarming tread. (It will take some time to see the results.)

Here is a thing, Japan have done a wonderful job to help elder people extend their life span with financial and healthcare services (sometimes, I feel that Tokyo is becoming a giant nursing center in the world), why couldn’t Japan’s govt find a way to cut taxes for young workers and give financial incentives to childbearing age women in addition to rebuilt regional economy to foster an inexpensive and good education environment for young people to raise family locally ?

You see, most young people in Japan don’t have legislative representations, as a result, the laws and policies have been purposely written to favor elder voters’ interest. For example, LDP are controlled by the elder rice farmers who vote, in turn, TPP faces a big stumbling block.

No one says it’s easy for Japan to get reforms done, but I believe it’s doable if enough people in Japan sense the crisis and put the efforts together to save Japan's future.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

That would have potentially huge knock-on effects on the size and vibrancy of the economy, and will heap ever-increasing pressure on a shrinking workforce to provide care for a proportionately larger group of pensioners.

They forgot to mention the failed pension system and raising the retirement age to 70. - So, Japanese manufacturing has lost its markets, the workforce is ageing and shrinking, the pension system has failed, aged care facilities are totally inadequate, they have a virtually zero immigration policy and they are refusing to acknowledge the necessity of importing foreign labor? So, in 50 years Japan will be a country full of aged people and careers with no manufacturing or economy. Welcome to 'Fantasy Island'!

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Suggestions, meetings, talk... never any action.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I don´t know why they are fixated on the "100 million" figure. Japan would be a great place with a population of 50 million too. A better one, for that matter.

The key word is "stabilize" however. Because unless they can get women to have average of 2 kids again, the country is on a demographic course to extinction.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Pay women to have children ... and agree they don't even have to take care of them - they'll be institutionalized (yes, you don't have to tell me institutionalized children have it tough - but if the point is to keep the population up no matter what and you don't really want immigrants and parents really don't want the burden of too many children how many options do you have).

I find this comment disgusting. PAY women to have kids and then state they don't need to care for them? There are already far too many kids in this country who are not looked after as it is and you're suggesting more? Did you not read the article last week about the kids kept in limbo who are in foster care and group homes because parents are not able or willing to take responsibilty for them? If you had said "make it easier to have kids" - such as more daycares, better mat leave... I would have agreed with you. More kids isn't just going to solve the issue. More kids with quality education who will become good worker bees and pay their taxes is though.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

At the current rate, fewer young and middle-aged Japanese will be able to support the increasing ratio of aging population, underlining the need to improve living conditions and child care programs as well as reducing the costs of raising children. The postwar business-as-combat model that created the Japanese miracle has led the country, literally, to begin working itself toward extinction. The corporate culture that puts "work first" must change, so that working men and women can set aside enough time for family and community.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The huge population explosions around the world are directly linked to coal and oil, and with human induced climate change now a fact, the eventual reduced use of these sources will mean smaller human populations everywhere, planned or through war and disease. Japan would be wise to keep pushing for a much smaller population more suited to its territorial ecological carrying capacity. At the same time, there must be a shift away from narrowly measuring human betterment as GDP growth, which required ever more people using every more energy for throw-away consumer goods.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japan should stabilize population at 100 mil by 2060: panel

100M? including pets and robots, i guess.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

" The huge population explosions around the world are directly linked to coal and oil "

err.... why? Japan also uses coal and oil, and has no "population explosion", to the contrary. Can you explain your claim?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Let me suggest a radical and desperate idea. Pay women to have children ... and agree they don't even have to take care of them - they'll be institutionalized (yes, you don't have to tell me institutionalized children have it tough - but if the point is to keep the population up no matter what and you don't really want immigrants and parents really don't want the burden of too many children how many options do you have).

So basically you're saying quantity over quality. What kind of society would this create?

This sounds like a bad sci-fi film.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Remove all limits on retirement age. Let the worker decide when they are ready to call it quits, or go to reduced hours. Arbitrary rules always punish the healthy and strong. All that experience out the door, for not valid reason.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@WilliB, Warispeace is clearly talking historically. Their thesis certainly applies to Japan.

To state the obvious, although the total 'national' economy will decline with the population; the 'per capita' economy will remain the same or increase due to technological improvements.

As will quality of life for ordinary people ... which these economists don't give a damn about. Why the obsession with the economic league table? It's all just hype to excite the markets.

Look at the "Where-to-be-born Index" instead. The two biggest languish way down the list.

One interesting thing we could look at is how the value of land or property is already decreasing in cost - due to the decrease in demand - and will, hopefully, increase in size too.

Stick a goldfish (families) in a bigger bowl and it will grow bigger. Keep it in a small one and it will stay small.

Behind these stories is always an emphasis from macro-economist or capitalists and we hear their voice ... bigger economy ... more workforce ... must have immigration ... largely because the only corporations they work for can afford PR machines pumping them out. The AFP are a sinful recycler of these PR sheets and seem to have an anti-Japan agenda.

Aim for the smallest population and restore cities to communal market gardens producing their own food. Sustainability and quality of life rather than profit.

The consumer-slave living in cells matrix has to be thrown out.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Mister Ed:

" @WilliB, Warispeace is clearly talking historically. Their thesis certainly applies to Japan.

To state the obvious, although the total 'national' economy will decline with the population; the 'per capita' economy will remain the same or increase due to technological improvements. "

That does not explain the strange claim that "" The huge population explosions around the world are directly linked to coal and oil " ".

Try again?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

That means investing in public daycare centers for kids, assisting working mothers, enforcing equality laws in the private sector and a whole lot of stuff the govt has been reluctant to do in the past. Good luck.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Guys and gals...it's time to get busy!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

A 27 million decrease in the population seems reasonable. By the time the country gets down to 117 million, the government will start making changes to rules about employment, immigration, and barriers surrounding social and work obligations.

This includes getting cities with limited disability access up to code, resolving the NEET issue, figuring a way to reintegrate mothers into to work place while encouraging them to work with their husbands in balancing the family dynamic, encouraging men to start families while at the same time encouraging them to be a more active member in the family dynamic, and the big ones Accurately Compensating Employees, Define work time as also problem solving / resolution time, and hinder the spread of alternative relationship centers (Snacks, Hospital Visits, Pachincoko)

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The title of the article is such wishful thinking, it's cute. It will barely happen even if JP government takes the action now.

EthanWilber MAY. 14, 2014 - 09:25AM JST Here is a thing, Japan have done a wonderful job to help elder people extend their life span with financial and healthcare services (sometimes, I feel that Tokyo is becoming a giant nursing center in the world), why couldn’t Japan’s govt find a way to cut taxes for young workers and give financial incentives to childbearing age women in addition to rebuilt regional economy to foster an inexpensive and good education environment for young people to raise family locally ?

Some of them may realise but east-Asian culture takes a bit more serious approach to respecting the elders. Young people may prioritise the children first but the government seems to care more for elderly generation and their welfare. Then again they are the majority of participants in the national elections, it's no wonder.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan should just accept the inevitable and join China. China could allow 2 or more children. Wham, Bam, Ying and Yang, Japan has a sustainable population again.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I find this comment disgusting. PAY women to have kids and then state they don't need to care for them? There are already far too many kids in this country who are not looked after as it is and you're suggesting more? Did you not read the article last week about the kids kept in limbo who are in foster care and group homes because parents are not able or willing to take responsibilty for them? If you had said "make it easier to have kids" - such as more daycares, better mat leave... I would have agreed with you. More kids isn't just going to solve the issue. More kids with quality education who will become good worker bees and pay their taxes is though.

TMarie, I wrote this one knowing it to be controversial, and I acknowledge your point. But Day Cares and Mat Leave do not solve the base problem - that the cost (financially and emotionally) of raising kids is more than what Japanese parents are willing to take and incentives only go so far to neutralize this. So if you want those kids produced, you have to take the burden off them entirely and hand something out for the cost of the trouble ... and how can you do that without institutionalizing them?

And one must wonder why you consider "institutionalized" to be against "quality education."

Institutions, like it or not, are the most cost-effective ways to raise large number of children (that's why orphanages are large collectives). Sure, they are somewhat lacking in the parental love department, but the effect is statistical.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@WilliB

He's talking about in the past, the 19th and 20th C. Large populations increases, and technological and economical, were only possible because of the energy they provided.

And, the opposite is going to be true of the diminishment as energy sources run out.

You won't be able to run the Japanese economy on bamboo charcoal.

@Kazuaki Shimazaki

For a long time, like the rest of Asia, Japan had working village communities which were far more communal. Child rearing took place within the community. America was afraid of communalism in Japan, and want markets for its goods and cheap labor to produce them, and encouraged it towards the nuclear and consumer family model after the war.

I don't warm to the idea of industrialized production and rear of children. That sounds like an increase in a negative tendency within modern Japan, a further of the dehumanization of individuals.

The way forward, is to go back 'towards' Edo ... with many of the medical and technological benefits ... replacing sustainability as the number one priority. Note, I stress "towards" not replicated.

Living garden cities ... not cells for nigh slave industrial worker bees.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Inaction is a major problem in every facet of Japanese society...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Mister Ed:

" He's talking about in the past, the 19th and 20th C. Large populations increases, and technological and economical, were only possible because of the energy they provided. "

But he was talking in the present. And the popation explosion today is happening in the 3rd world, and not in the highly industrialized societies like Japan.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The problem with these reports:

The panel also suggested

... and that's all we ever see. We get panels set up (via taxpayer funding of course), "suggestions" are made, then it's long periods of inaction.

Wash, rise, repeat.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I agree with the posters who think 100 million is much too high. For a country the size of Japan, 30 to 50 million would be at the extreme high end of a reasonable number.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

According to some projections from an ex-Ministry of Immigration director, by around 2160, the last Japanese pensioner will switch the lights off, and fall asleep for the last time, leaving Japan unoccupied...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Why is immigration viewed with suspicion? By whom? The govt or the populace? Skilled migration may be the best solution.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Maybe if they got rid of the stigma of hafu and gaijin altogether coupled with more accepting immigration policies, it could change. I'd love to go to japan if I actually felt welcomed

-1 ( +2 / -2 )

**TMarie, I wrote this one knowing it to be controversial, and I acknowledge your point. But Day Cares and Mat Leave do not solve the base problem - that the cost (financially and emotionally) of raising kids is more than what Japanese parents are willing to take and incentives only go so far to neutralize this. So if you want those kids produced, you have to take the burden off them entirely and hand something out for the cost of the trouble ... and how can you do that without institutionalizing them?

And one must wonder why you consider "institutionalized" to be against "quality education."

Institutions, like it or not, are the most cost-effective ways to raise large number of children (that's why orphanages are large collectives). Sure, they are somewhat lacking in the parental love department, but the effect is statistical.**

So as a society with huge debts you suggest taking away cost of kids and give it to society as a whole to pay and raise kids from tax money that Japan doesn't have? Kids "produced" - they aren't produce, they are humans. The cost of "trouble" and "burden"? See, these comments reflect the attitudes of your average person here with regards to having kids.

Why I consider it? Have you ever worked in a school here that cares for kids with parents who can't or won't raise them? I have and trust me, they are not getting a "quality" education. They also get their education cut off once they reach HS because it isn't free in this country.

Just because something is cost effective doesn't mean it is what is best for people, more so kids and education. Lacking in love causes huge issues. Perhaps you could look into the rates of addiction, violence, abuse and the like from kids raised in groups like you suggest?

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

@tmarie

I agree with the gist of what you're saying, but kids in institutions absolutely don't get their education "cut off" after junior high.

Indeed, 98.5 per cent go on to high school, which is a perfectly respectable rate compared with the population as a whole.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Because until you know the answer, your argument that it can be reversed is simply foolish talk.

It took 18 years from 2,05 (1974) to 1,5 (1992). My argument is valid so is Japanese panel right.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Lucabrasi, the place where I worked cut them off and they had to find jobs - most of them went to work in hair salons. I'm glad your experience is different but I'm speaking from what I saw firsthand. It was sad and upsetting to say the least. I also will say, I don't think the kids I got had "quality" education compared to the other schools I was in.

Do you have a link for that rate - and maybe one for university? I think it is a huge issue here and more needs to be done to help these kids so I am curious about the figures.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

@tmarie

Look up 児童養護施設 on Wikipedia.

I think the rate for students going on to tertiary education is somewhere around 18 per cent, which is pretty poor : (

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Thanks. I will.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

The birth rate in Japan has steadily risen from a low of 1.26 in 2005 to 1.42 in 2013. If this rate continues, we will hit 1.8 by 2030. 2.07 is not out of the question.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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