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Japan's population continues to decline in 2014

30 Comments

The Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare says the the number of babies born in Japan during 2014 was the lowest since population data collection began.

In figures released Friday, the ministry said 1,003,532 babies were born in 2014, about 26,000 fewer than in 2013. It was the lowest number of births ever recorded since population statistics started being kept in 1899, Fuji TV reported. The total fertility rate, which is the average number of children a woman gives birth to in her lifetime, declined 0.01 points to 1.42, the ministry added.

Meanwhile, the number of deaths in 2014 was the highest in postwar Japan, at 1,273,020. When the death and birth rates are calculated against each other, the overall population dropped by approximately 270,000 people.

The recent statistics indicate the most extreme drop in population since the decline began nearly eight years ago, the ministry said.

A ministry spokesperson said the data only highlights the urgency that the government must deal with the very real issue of the population decline.

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I read an article a few weeks ago stating that the Japanese population is working themselves to death which could be one of the main factors as to why there is a decrease in population growth. Furthermore, as many people have stated before; it is expensive to raise a child in Japan.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

How lucky are the people of Japan that the population is decreasing when other countries have the opposite problem---too many people----pandemonium!!

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Yes Japan is just committing suicide as it forces its workers to work themselves to death, leaving them no time or inclination for sex. And yet nothing can or will change.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

I'm Japanese and I feel relief! Over crowded and cramped in tiny houses wherever I go and now I get the news that there will be space for all of us. And the downside? The government has to be less corrupt and use more public funds for their real purposes due to less tax revenue?

Can I get a yeehaw?

5 ( +9 / -4 )

I agree - less people is better, but there won't be enough money to support us when we get older...that's the downside.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

More people or less people, will never stop corrupted governments to abuse, manipulate and exploit human beings. Beside the upper class ( which dwell into arts, spirituality, and higher quest), the common people live to the level of cattle . No time to love, no time to wonder of the beauty o life, no time to spend with their families, no time to educate their children to teach them how to care and to love, no time to gasp what is one's purpose on this earth and no time to take care of their health. Let people live and have a little taste of love and life, and they will gladly give back to society.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

How lucky are the people of Japan that the population is decreasing when other countries have the opposite problem---too many people----pandemonium!!

mistaken belief, misconception. Here businesses want to maintain same profits so they increase the prices and same thing with govt., it keeps increasing taxes to compensate for departing souls.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I wonder what Japan would be like if it had a rapidly growing population. Because it sure feels crushingly crowded as it is.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

This is an issue facing other countries too, and they are concerned about supporting an ageing population. Britain and Australia have raised the retirement age at which one can get the government old age pension, so unless they have amassed sufficient funds to support themselves in retirement, they have to work more years. Both have immigration too, but owing to the worldwide refugee problem and over-liberal immigration laws, it is not necessarily the right people that come in. However Japan has been very restrictive up to now with their immigration policies, so is now in a very good position to loosen them up,if that is what it wants, and to do so very selectively.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The sharp and smart are co-opted into the elites, who live comfortable lives on the gravy train, and the rest will say "shoganai" (nothing can be done, it's pointless to try. Add to this their visceral dislike of the idea of a lot of foreigners moving in and you have...well, you have what we are seeing now. A decaying society, watching itself atrophy and unwilling to get up and make the smallest effort to avoid disaster. (Japan is doomed, so move your family before your child gets put into the drone factory of the Japanese school system.)

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Drone factory. Exactly. Going back to my home country in some time to avoid my kids become good slave to the society for some par of their life, school being one of them. No wAy I wish them to go through the wonderful work environment too here and get the right to smile to get peanuts for their effort while the seniors get fat and "spit" on younger thinking they are worthless. It is a pity because Japan has so many good points in social life(many many opportunities at their best for events you can decide ). Wishing brigther future but looks dark, no locals wishing to change anything to that system.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

move your family before your child gets put into the drone factory of the Japanese school system

Or put them in private school.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Japanese, pure Japanese, might be on the decline. But with all the foreign guys I see marrying J-gals, at an alarming rate, their offspring might make up for the population shortfall. Unless they relocate to the foreign guy's home country & mix the pot even more.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

I read an article a few weeks ago stating that the Japanese population is working themselves to death which could be one of the main factors as to why there is a decrease in population growth. Furthermore, as many people have stated before; it is expensive to raise a child in Japan.

Japanese workers are not "working themselves to death". Japanese spend a lot of time at the office, but their output is not high. Productivity in Japan is not high, so workers spend say 10 hours a day and getting as much work done as a worker in another country would get done in 8 hours.

This all falls back on Japan's seniority-based promotion systems, and labor laws. In Japan you are not promoted for performance or merit, you get promotions and raises depending on how long you have been with the company, since there is no incentive to perform, workers don't perform.

Next, it is difficult to fire full-time workers, even if they refuse to do any work at all, so more workers must be hired to compensate, and other workers must work more to take up the slack. They don't necessarily work harder, but they have to work longer. This drives up labor costs, so wages stagnate and decrease. We end up with overstaffed companies where people work long hours for less pay. This result of less free time and less income is fewer children.

Companies have tried to compensate for decreased productivity and higher labor costs by colluding together to drive up prices. But this only makes having children even more expensive, and further increases the problem.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Time ago i had a great life. I was at school any I didnt have any money. I was happy. Now I have money and don't have time to spend it. Why would I have any kids?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

A ministry spokesperson said the data only highlights the urgency that the government must deal with the very real issue of the population decline.

No, you think? Boy those ministry types are truly great at stating the obvious. Unfortuantely, they are not as great at coming up with some solutions to Japan's problems -- this being just one -- and working with the politicians to implement some real social change there. As I have said many time shere, Japan is more often than not its own worst enemy, and this is a perfect example.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

The aging population and low birthrate is now a security risk for Japan, as a resurgent China will quite happily throw its weight around against a weakened and less powerful Japan.

Russia has seen some success in recent years in getting its birthrate up, to the point where the population is starting to slowly increase again. They too see China as a threat to their Far Eastern territories and understood what a security risk that demographic decline is.

Work culture needs to change, but also some younger Japanese actually need to get some social skills, get out there and date. Plenty of people who want to get married and have a family, many of them seem to lack the skills, urgency to go out there and actually meet someone.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@ Wc626 - Not just guys, there are tons of women from poor Asian countries who's dream in life is to come to Japan, get a Japanese boyfriend, get pregnant, get married, and get residency status. I wonder if they are included in the numbers.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This problem is not unique to Japan. China and Russia, and even South Korea some western countries have this too.

I have some Japanese friends who are married to Philippine women. The Philippine women can rotate their relatives and family members to come to Japan for a period of 6 months to help them in rearing and caring their kids. So most of them has 3 to 5 kids. Actually one of my friend who is a Catholic Japanese couples has 4 kids too even though they are raising their kids on their own.

So the possible solutions are there. Simply support for the mothers to raise their kids with maid or relatives supporting them. Also, it's all guts (as in the case of the Japanese Catholic Couples). They were taught by the Church not to use artificial birth control methods.

In fact, in Singapore, Middle-east etc, couples do have 2 or more kids because they have maids and nannies from the Philippines, Indonesia and other poorer countries.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

A ministry spokesperson said the data only highlights the urgency that the government must deal with the very real issue of the population decline.

Ha. Just love these Minister types spouting obvious government platitudes. Must deal with this situation urgently? Since the mid-1990s everyone with any kind of expertise including the United Nations has been screaming at the government to deal with this situation urgently. But as we all know now it's too late to deal with the situation and have any hope of reversing what will be a long, destructive decline of this country's wealth and prestige. It's not that the population is dropping by 240,000 as much as the population is now aging at a rate that will mean 40 percent of the population will be over the age of 65 within the next 25 years. That is the crisis the country faces.

As for the issue of overcrowding in Japan,that is a completely man-made issue. Japan Inc., very purposely to consolidate power made business and industry focused on the Tokyo area, such that more than one quarter of the population now lives there. Get out of Tokyo and you'll see land as far as the eye can see. Where I live the population density is 17 people per square kilometer. If the government would share the wealth by spreading out business and industry centers throughout the country you'd see the problem go away.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"The aging population and low birthrate is now a security risk for Japan.."

The opposite is true. If Japan had a growing population, its dependence on foreign food and energy would grow, raising its geopolitical risks.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Jeff,

Minor problem compared to aging and falling birthrate in Japan.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"Minor problem compared to aging and falling birthrate in Japan."

Only if you believe the myth (and it is a myth) that Japan will somehow run out of its own currency to fund its pension, healthcare, etc.

The risks of relying more and more heavily on exports from China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and other exporters to basically stay alive is by far greater.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The opposite is true. If Japan had a growing population, its dependence on foreign food and energy would grow, raising its geopolitical risks.

Jeff, zurconium is right. Also, did you stop to think that with an aging and shrinking population, tax collections will naturally decline, thus making less funds available for defense? At a time when social costs, as a percent of GDP, will continue to rise, due to the higher percentage of elderly. You are aware that Japan has a record low percentage of folks under the age of 15, aren't you? Which also means there will be less folks to join the SDF forces. Doesn't any of that say "security risk" to you?

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

To add to jersy, Jeff and Zurco'c conversation.

The Foreign Affairs magazine about 5 years ago had a special edition on what the aging society means for each nation. In a nutshell, militaries need young , healthy resonably well educated troops (in the case of Japan basically only males) As the numbers of these people declines, the ability of a nation to field a viable military also declines. A large proportion of the troops in two European nations facing population decline (Germany and Italy) are immiigrants who have taken up nationality.

Don't have to tell you that that isn't going to happen in Japan.

**Hence, drindling numbers of young men = shrunken or non existant military force.

In the current environment of an expansive China I would call that a security risk.**

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"did you stop to think that with an aging and shrinking population, tax collections will naturally decline, thus making less funds available for defense?"

No, because Japan's ability to support and run its social programs is not dependent on its tax revenues.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

No, because Japan's ability to support and run its social programs is not dependent on its tax revenues.

OL. Jeff I was truly hoping we could get through one discusiion without you falling back on your foolish argument that Japan has an unlimited ability to take on debt.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

"OL. Jeff I was truly hoping we could get through one discusiion without you falling back on your foolish argument that Japan has an unlimited ability to take on debt."

And I was hoping that you could explain why why none your doomsaying predictions about Japan's debt has ever come close to being true.

Japan was supposed to have collapsed and "run out of money" a while ago, remember? JGBs have already lost many of their customers, who are buying equities instead, and the population growth has been in negative territory. That was supposed to be the turning point, right?

So where is the unravelling? The crisis, the default, the mass poverty, the double digit joblessness? You cant keep trumpeting this worldview amid a complete lack of evidence, while trends move in the opposite direction you said they would. Or maybe you can. Nothing surprises me anymore.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Japan the most indebted nation in the world has no other option than to keep raising taxes and emasculating the yen-who would be having kids in that environment?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Over crowded and cramped in tiny houses wherever I go and now I get the news that there will be space for all of us.

thepersoniamnow, so I guess you have never been outside Tokyo. May I suggest Yamanashi, Mie, Shiga, Gifu, Hokkaido, Shikoku, or Kyushu if you want space. Nagano and Gunma as well. In fact, with the exception of Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka, Kyoto, and Nagoya, the rest of the country is all yours. Japan is not crowded. This is a myth. Just leave the 5 major cities and you will see. Even parts of Saitama are completely empty. Venture out to Chichibu.

Japanese, pure Japanese, might be on the decline. But with all the foreign guys I see marrying J-gals, at an alarming rate, their offspring might make up for the population shortfall. Unless they relocate to the foreign guy's home country & mix the pot even more.

Wc626, sounds to me that you might be spending too much time in Roppongi. Would it make you happy to know that the vast majority of mixed marriages in Japan are between Japanese men and other asian women? ie Chinese, Fillipino, Thai, and others? You just don't see it because their mixed kids almost always look Japanese.

Also, most women who marry foreign men from Europe, North America, Australia, or New Zealand end up leaving. Why live in Japan when you have the west?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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