national

Japan's population falls for 4th straight year

48 Comments

The requested article has expired, and is no longer available. Any related articles, and user comments are shown below.

© 2015 AFP

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

48 Comments
Login to comment

Battambangbound Doing a FATCA Japanese version, with a strict rules with resident or visa worker but when you become citizen they rules change that will be better for everybody.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Foreign workers" need not necessarily be the unskilled who commit crime and send remittances back to their home countries instead of spending it in Japan (a previously submitted concept). In addition to the foreign worker idea, there are the following two ideas that would support the Japanese economy: I Fully integrate the female work force instead of relegating them to the role of Office Ladies between the ages of 20 and 24 and then (after two decades of motherhood) to the role of supermarket cashiers after the age of 45. In 1974 my most esteemed Sophia University graduate school professor Father M. Bairy quipped to our class, "Did you ever think of what would happen with Japan if the Japanese women ever took over. After all, we all know they are smarter than the men." II Cease the practice of dumping Japanese corporate employees at the age of 55. They have several more productive years ahead of them, especially if the Japanese system would consider the idea of continual education for their employees instead of the mythical "lifetime employment" system that has senior employees earning the position of "leaving the work to the subordinates."

0 ( +1 / -1 )

So you concede that Zimbabwe is not comparable to Japan's?

I am saying that Zimbabwe printed exceedingly high amounts of money, and then that money became completely worthless. I am not saying Zimbabwe is totally comparable to Japan in every respect (do I really have to point out the obvious?). I am saying that Zimbabwe printing exceedingly high amounts of money did not make it a superstar, but the opposite, and that ideas like yours would have Japan head in the same direction.

That's odd, b/c in the past you've raised Zimbabwe a number of times in reference to the supposed crisis and risks Japan could face (none of which have actually happened, naturally).

Zimbabwe did not have a crisis, until it did, either. Short-termism? Sustainability? Think about it. Or are you such a dinosaur that you think nothing that hasn't happened already can't in future?

All currency issuing economies, like Japan, the US, the UK and Switzerland, print money. If they didn't, there would be no money in the economy, and then no economy.

And Zimbabwe? The point is that excessive money printing is hazardous, as history shows. But miss it all you like, just don't blame anyone but yourself should you ever personally bear the brunt of such foolish policies.

Japan technically has a limitless supply of yen.

As did Zimbabwe.

I dont see Norway, Sweden, etc. and other generous welfare and pension-giving states in any fiscal crisis.

Compare the debt levels? Geez...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

when a country doesn't have any benefits or incentive for have children

Actually, there are many benefits and incentives. For example, a child allowance of 15,000 yen a month for toddlers, 10,000 yen for children. Also, the local ward pays about half of my first child's kindergarten fees, and tuition for my second child is an additional 50% off.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Not body wants have children's when a country doesn't have any benefits or incentive for have children's I have Japanese friends and they told me this, is not my words is the words of Japanese people. "Why I want have children's with a bad economy?" Or "With a government doesn't gives has any incentive Some Japanese are smart they don't want their children suffer with a bad economy, some people doesn't see that way. I prefer build my wealth, knowledge and work out rather have children's withouht thinking what will be the outcome of a country with a deficient of 10 Trillion.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Japanese politicians already have a twisted solution:

1) Raise the retirement age. Try to get the old to work to death.

And it has the side political benefit, that old Japanese tend to vote for the most conservative, status quo, and racist politicians.

2) Push women into the work force, and force them to work like men.

This is seen as expanding an all Japanese work force that creates the tax base to support old Japanese.

Of course the "catch-22" is that career working women have less babies, are less likely to get married, and are more likely to get into relationship conflicts with men. But the racism and nationalism in politics will ignore this as much as possible for votes.

3) Japanese men marrying Asian women from other countries, and claiming the children are Japanese, as if "pure blood".

This is an old trick used in Japan. As long as you look Asian, are born in Japan, speak Japanese, and have a Japanese name, then you are Japanese.

Foreign Asian women, sometimes White women, will be used to be the housewives that career working Japanese women refuse to be.

The problem here is of course strict backward immigration means there will never be enough foreign women and the children are "mixed nationality or mixed race". This is a political issue for narrow-minded Japanese, where they will sporadically switch positions, between privately allowing and publicly against.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

"If printing money were good for economies, wouldn't that mean Zimbabwe should be a superstar?"

So you concede that Zimbabwe is not comparable to Japan's? That's odd, b/c in the past you've raised Zimbabwe a number of times in reference to the supposed crisis and risks Japan could face (none of which have actually happened, naturally).

All currency issuing economies, like Japan, the US, the UK and Switzerland, print money. If they didn't, there would be no money in the economy, and then no economy.

"Then answer my question: And with one working age person, paying to support four retirees, savings will be nil. So just where does this money come from? Of, that's right, they just print more?"

Japan technically has a limitless supply of yen. The govt needs to print yen whether it likes it nor not. Pension payments are good avenue, since the money tends to be spent on local goods and services. I dont see Norway, Sweden, etc. and other generous welfare and pension-giving states in any fiscal crisis.

Baby boomer families in the US in the 60s were typically large with a single income earner. It had a skewed ratio of economicially engaged to non-engaged. So how did the US not just pay to support the rocketing number of the kids in public schools, but stage an economic boom at the same time?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Japanese people love children. They idealize them. It is the corporate interests that keep people at work constantly without any recreation. So they miss out on the most valuable asset, children.

BTW, recreation spurs new businesses and the multiplier effect of money. The history of a people is more than one generation. Corporate Japan could wake up and love families.

The burden the culture puts on themselves in paying for education is immense.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

If population growth were good for economies, then Africa and the Mideast would be superstars.

If printing money were good for economies, wouldn't that mean Zimbabwe should be a superstar?

Japan can continue to pay pensions and other obligations because all it has to do is press its monetary-issuing button well after the funds run dry.

Sane people know that this is not a sustainable strategy. Ever heard of short-termism?

And that a given risk has not yet come to fruition is no guarantee that it won't in future. This should be common sense to everyone by now.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

70% tax on anyone with any net worth to his name is coming. I am making plans now...

@Sinestro, you should know that foreigners in Japan do pretty well, and certainly way better than in France or the U.S., from what I can see. There are legal protections, lots of public help, though housing discrimination is a real thing depending on where you're from and who you've got connections with. Certainly it would be nice for people from Malaysia or India or Europe to be able to come here and work more easily, and there will be jobs for them. I know German fellow who does normal eigyou (sales) for a Japanese advertising company. It will come, and be fine for all involved.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The problem with the above statement is that the 'as long as' would never continue for that long. So it's really a meaningless statement.

Is it? There is no indications really anywhere in the developed world that the population birth-rates of the natives is increasing or that it is going to increase to above two per woman anytime soon. The only developed nations that have population birth rates either at or above two per woman is almost entirely due to immigrants and immigrant families having children. The offspring of those immigrants tend to have less children and the offspring of the offspring have even less children.

Can you tell us when Japan is going to have a birth rate of two or more per woman? I get the feeling you are just assuming that this demographic problem will eventually sort itself out on its own.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Dan LewisApr. 18, 2015 - 10:49PM JST

There are a host of other problems too, like the fact that even if 20% of the working population decided to become geriatric nurses (and no economy could support that percentage) there still wouldn't be enough to cope with demand and provide care for the elderly in Japan.

I might be mistaken, but I think that was Robert's point - meaning that Japan will NOT be able to support the elderly and many will die off because of that. As a result, there won't BE a need for the support as the population will have stabilized somewhat. It's sad, but there will be daily reports of people dying in their homes for reasons ranging from "fallen and can't get up" to starvation.

I think you might be mistaken. The thing is that politicians won't sit idly by when massive numbers of voters are dying, particularly if those older more conservative voters are the ones keeping them in power. We've already seen Abe's economic policies, and they're all short-term solutions designed to keep the elderly alive long enough for his term in office to end... and the next LDP politician will adopt a similar set of strategies, sacrificing long-term economic health for their short-term career ambitions.

And when the pension and healthcare systems collapse (and no this isn't doomsaying, the pension system has already been running at a net loss for the last 5 years at least) Japan will be forced into economic compromises, the most likely of which is that Chinese businesses would begin buying up Japan one piece at a time and bringing their workers with them... and the LDP politician in power at the time would happily sell Japan little by little if it just kept them in power for one more term.

Again, you think I'm doomsaying? It has already started.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

LOL. The simplistic amateurs are the ones who think public finance is run like household finances

Really, Jeff. The simply answer my question:

And with one working age person, paying to support four retirees, savings will be nil. So just where does this money come from? Of, that's right, they just print more?

Since you understand the subject matter much better than us, please enlighten us.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

That is not a guarantee, as long as the birthrate is lower than two per woman the population will continue to decline until none exist.

The problem with the above statement is that the 'as long as' would never continue for that long. So it's really a meaningless statement.

When your debating opponents must resort to personal slights or insults, then you're won the debate.

People say that, but it's not necessarily true. Sometimes the person you are debating is so stupid, and what they are saying is so ridiculous, that it's not worth wasting the time arguing with them anymore, and better to just call them an idiot and walk away. That doesn't mean they've won the debate, it just means they are too stupid to argue with.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The moderators on this site still suck, deleting my posts. so much for free speech

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Back on topic please.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Thank God I avoided a Canadian education."

When your debating opponents must resort to personal slights or insults, then you're won the debate.

"one two outcomes -- high levels of inflation"

When your debating opponents resort to citing things that don't happen, then you're won the debate.

"So just where does this money come from?"

Where do you think the YEn comes from? It comes from government spending. Explain to me how Japan will run out of a currency it has the sole authority to issue. While you're at it, cite me some evidence the debt is harming the economy.

"your comments are ludicrously simplistic and amateurish."

LOL. The simplistic amateurs are the ones who think public finance is run like household finances.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

One way or the other the population will stabilize.

That is not a guarantee, as long as the birthrate is lower than two per woman the population will continue to decline until none exist.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Does xenophobia threaten the existence of Japan or would its population reduce to a lower stable level?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

if Japan doesnt want immigrants then it better make having children a economic plus, like tax breaks and free or cheap child care, otherwise itll just dwindle into insignificance.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Japan can essentially DOUBLE their working population without immigration by enabling the female half of its present population to rise. But they won't do that either. Like all of us, they get what they deserve.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Lot of people think that there is no problem here. That would be the case IF you were able to eliminate every man and woman over the age of say 60. Sadly they will not go quietly into that good night. And I probably wouldn't either. They will remain for 30 years, taking up the resources that could have kept the country at least afloat. I hope you all are ready for declining living standards until Japan is at best like Greece. This is what xenophobia does to you.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Dont worry about japan lads.... look at ur country first who is non like me.. and i will one more thing

The ideal population density is 50 to 100 per sq km.. japan in 2011 was 336 per sq km..

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

JeffLeeApr. 18, 2015 - 09:37PM JST

If population growth were good for economies, then Africa and the Mideast would be superstars. Reality check: Rich countries have low birthrates, poor countries high. Get used to it.

Japan can continue to pay pensions and other obligations because all it has to do is press its monetary-issuing button well after the funds run dry. That's what you get for being a mature developed economy with no external debt and a sovereign currency.

Thank God I avoided a Canadian education.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

This kind of policy, depending on how it is executed, can only have two outcomes -- high levels of inflation, or, more likely in Japan's case, even greater levels of debt.

We're in uncharted territory here. Historically, economic imbalances were resolved by war, and I don't see any reason to return to that method. Japan's case is interesting in that the vast majority of its debt is owned by itself. With deflation the predominant concern, and with potentially valuable assets being rapidly liquidated in rural areas of Japan, it is quite possible that Japan could nationalize a good portion of its debt with neither inflation nor a weakened yen. Investors here are conservative; any windfall due to QE actions will likely remain in the local economy. I'd say suck it up and see how it goes; that uncharted territory is preferable to the known shoals of austerity.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

A shrinking population is a good thing for Japan. Japan is too overcrowded which increases stress levels for people due to excessive competition at schools and the job market. What Japan needs to do is to focus on improving quality of life and also environmental management. It needs to clean up the radiation from northeastern and eastern Japan. Also it needs to be more generous to elderly population by increasing welfare.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

A shrinking population is a good thing for Japan which currently has about 4 times the population it should have considering the size of the country and its natural resources.

As for supporting the growing number of elderly, increases in productivity over the past 20-30 years that computers have brought mean companies are doing the same amount of production with a fraction of the number of workers that were previously required. This increased productivity creates increased profits that can be taxed to support the elderly.

The large number of elderly is just a temporary bulge that will pass in 20-30 years. It would be a tragic mistake to pass up this chance to reduce the population by choosing the uncertainties that go with balkanizing the ethic population of the country.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

If population growth were good for economies, then Africa and the Mideast would be superstars. Reality check: Rich countries have low birthrates, poor countries high. Get used to it.

Jeff -- once again your comments are ludicrously simplistic and amateurish. Comparing highly-developed, industrialized countries, to developing/third-world ones is simply foolish. And worthlessly glib.

Japan can continue to pay pensions and other obligations because all it has to do is press its monetary-issuing button well after the funds run dry. That's what you get for being a mature developed economy with no external debt and a sovereign currency.

And, once again you want to ignore the consequences of your "print money" strategy. This kind of policy, depending on how it is executed, can only have two outcomes -- high levels of inflation, or, more likely in Japan's case, even greater levels of debt. Which at some point has to be re-paid. And with one working age person, paying to support four retirees, savings will be nil. So just where does this money come from? Of, that's right, they just print more?

6 ( +10 / -4 )

Tell me about it. My son left two years ago, and my daughter is scheduled to leave this summer, marking a 50% population decline in our household. We plan to acquire more dogs to compensate.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Food for thought....is a shrinking population such a bad think for a country that is poor in natural resources and has to depend upon imports to survive?

I for one would like to hear what population level the government thinks it needs to maintain to keep the current standard of living? Is it necessary to keep having an increase in population when the infrastructure is unable to sustain it continuing growth?

Including Tokyo and Osaka Okinawa is one prefecture that has seen an increase in population, and the infrastructure here is getting pushed to extremes to support it.

The government can put out all sorts of warnings, and yes in the short (narrow) view it will put a strain on resources, but in the long run may be it is better to have a Japan with a smaller more sustainable population.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

There are a host of other problems too, like the fact that even if 20% of the working population decided to become geriatric nurses (and no economy could support that percentage) there still wouldn't be enough to cope with demand and provide care for the elderly in Japan.

I might be mistaken, but I think that was Robert's point - meaning that Japan will NOT be able to support the elderly and many will die off because of that. As a result, there won't BE a need for the support as the population will have stabilized somewhat. It's sad, but there will be daily reports of people dying in their homes for reasons ranging from "fallen and can't get up" to starvation.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

It is now four straight years. It can become forty straight years unless the Japanese do something drastically different. It seems that one of the things that is barrier-free is this population decline.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@ifd66

It would be good if Japan's politicians focused on the quality of life of the people, but raising the GDP trumps this (unfortunately)..

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The world could do with fewer people. But in a more local sense, will my chances of getting a seat on the Yamanote now improve, or will the Silver Seats be increased to meet the demand?

6 ( +5 / -0 )

If population growth were good for economies, then Africa and the Mideast would be superstars. Reality check: Rich countries have low birthrates, poor countries high. Get used to it.

Japan can continue to pay pensions and other obligations because all it has to do is press its monetary-issuing button well after the funds run dry. That's what you get for being a mature developed economy with no external debt and a sovereign currency.

-5 ( +6 / -12 )

Immigration, The United States would be in the same boat (although not as extreme) without immigration.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Generally standard of living will steadily drop for the Japanese in the decades to come because of the declining and fast aging demographics:

Government debts of 245% of GDP will continue to increase as wealth generation and overall total income drops. BOJ will have to monetize the government debts ensuring a weaker and weaker Yen, meaning that purchasing power of Japanese on a global basis will decline. Household savings are steadily absorbed by government debts. Pension payments will become less and less as pensioners number (old & retired) increases rapidly and number of pension contributors (active) decreases. Any substantial interest rates increase from zero will trigger a government debt payment crisis. Workers and entrepreneurs have to pay higher and higher direct and indirect taxes to fund the nation finances.

Japanese may become a "poor" faster than we think, once a debt crisis is triggered.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

They won't open the gates until it's too late, and even then you'll have the last of the dying old people saying, "It's better for the nation if Japan dies off pure" than even potentially loses some of its culture by allowing immigrants in to plug the gaping holes. In the meantime, the youth here will be so brutally punished by overtaxation, the poor elderly forced to literally work until death, and the situation so impossible that many who can will leave. Who in their right mind would have kids, or at least more than one, when there are so many penalties and no rewards in doing so, and when the future for them is so bleak?

0 ( +4 / -5 )

Robert DykesApr. 18, 2015 - 05:50PM JST Why does the world assume shrinking population = bad thing.

The problem isn't the shrinking population, the problem is that in a decade there will be about 4 retired people for every working person, or to put it simply, one working person will be expected to support 4 retired people.

There are a host of other problems too, like the fact that even if 20% of the working population decided to become geriatric nurses (and no economy could support that percentage) there still wouldn't be enough to cope with demand and provide care for the elderly in Japan.

Now that wouldn't be a problem if Japan's politicians showed any sign of acknowledging this reality and actually making some sort of move to deal with it, but they simply aren't. All of Abe's policies, like getting women into the workplace and raising taxes, are short-term stop-gap solutions that will actually backfire in the long-run.

the things that make Japan beautiful have been here 1000 years and will surely last another 1000 years

I beg to disagree. The longer Japan waits the more compromises it will have to make and the more will be lost. If Japan starts planned and targeted professional immigration TODAY, and adopted English as one of the official languages of Japan, then they'd have some hope.

Right now it looks like Chinese will be the language of Japan in 20 years, and while I have nothing against the Chinese it would completely change the face of Japan forever.

3 ( +6 / -4 )

siniestro

I dont see how these people will help support the growing pensioners.

Have you ever heard of taxes?

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Robert D

What you say makes sense, however it wont just be difficult(Japan is ALREADY difficult stage now), its going to be brutal over the coming decades. And the already low birth rate could very drop much further once people realize how tough its going to be.

Gaijin D,

Hope your making sure your kids have to skills to survive OUTSIDE Japan as an option!

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

@SOME14SOME:

so, market lost 590 'consumers' everyday That's the only reason the ruling elite make out population fall to be such a bad thing - they need the numbers to keep up in the competatiive GPD growth league tables.

Falling population if managed well could increase quality of life, and of course, is an obvious way to reduce the burden we place on the natural world.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

"ah such a beautiful country.....killing itself" Why does the world assume shrinking population = bad thing. The only reason the government wants to reverse the shrinking population is one thing, MONEY. One way or the other the population will stabilize. There was no way to keep up the post war baby boom, and with near zero immigration, this was all to be expected. Yes it is and will be a strain on the economy, but it will slow down and stabilize in a few decades. It is not like Japan will slowly shrink and one day, POOF, no more Japanese people or Japan will exist. What non-sense. In a over crowded world that isn't expected to slow done until it hits around 10 billion, Japan may actually be viewed as a haven in coming decades, a model. Japan will have to figure out a way to deal with its ageing population. Something that china is 10-20 years behind thanks to its 50 year+ one child only policy. They are facing the EXACT same problem as Japan, but on a scale nearly 10 times the side. No transition is without its pain, change is hard, but the things that make Japan beautiful have been here 1000 years and will surely last another 1000 years.

0 ( +8 / -8 )

Yeah bring all the poor immigrants so we can use them like slaves with low salaries of part time jobs that dont have any insurance. Then they will just collect all the money they can get and send it back to their country, no spending anything here but the basics. I dont see how these people will help support the growing pensioners. At the same time one of the only clean countries of the world is gonna start having higher and higher crime rates.

-14 ( +4 / -18 )

The population dropped by 0.17%, or 215,000 people,

so, market lost 590 'consumers' everyday (?!)

5 ( +6 / -1 )

But even at 86.7 million, there will still be that annoying baba who, in a mostly empty supermarket, will still manage to want to be right next to me trying to look at the same product I'm looking at.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Any suggestion of opening its borders to young workers who could help plug the population gap provokes strong reactions among the public.

There's the problem. Ironically, its the older conservative generation who are against this.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

ah such a beautiful country.....killing itself...... my two kids born in Japan...... lovely and extremely peaceful country.....

-1 ( +8 / -9 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites