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Is Japan becoming extinct?

The projected drop in the country’s population raises some fundamental questions about its political and social future

by

Staff Writer

After years of paying limited attention to academic and media warnings about the declining birthrate, aging population and complaints from the rest of the country about the overconcentration of people and resources in Tokyo, political and corporate leaders in Japan were jolted by the conclusions of a 2014 book by Hiroya Masuda, a former Iwate prefectural governor and head of a government committee on local revitalization.

“Local Extinctions,” Masuda’s detailed report of population changes, used the latest official figures from the government’s National Institution of Population and Social Security Research to show that 896 cities, towns and villages throughout Japan were facing extinction by 2040. At first glance, the book simply repeated what earlier reports had concluded. However, it also included the percentages by which child-bearing women between the ages of 20 and 40 were expected to decline in each and every city, town and village.

The latter figures, in particular, caught the eye of a large number of people, especially politicians, bureaucrats and corporate leaders who were, predominately, elderly men already worried about the declining birthrate. The grim predictions forced everyone, though, to ask old questions with new urgency: As the population shrinks, who will give birth to the next generation of voters? Without new mothers, where will the next generation of taxpayers, business leaders and customers come from? And if too many localities become extinct, what will happen to all of those Tokyo-based firms that rely on the rest of the nation to stay in business?

“Local Extinctions” became a best-seller, and spawned a number of books and magazines on the same issue. All raised fundamental, and yet very practical, questions about the country’s political and social future. Before looking at some of those questions, though, let’s take a look at the position Japan is to be in a quarter century from today, using both Masuda’s book and official government data.

In 2014, the population of Japan was just under 127 million. By 2040, it’s expected to drop to about 107 million and, by 2050, it will be around 97 million.

In Hokkaido, Sapporo is expected to lose nearly 200,000 people by 2040, as its population declines from about 1.9 million to 1.7 million people. In central and eastern Hokkaido, one of the most important agricultural regions in Japan and home to some of the strongest opposition to the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, the situation is especially dire. Dozens of Hokkaido villages are predicted to see the number of women between 20 and 40 years old drop by at least 50 percent, and as much as 87 percent, by 2040 compared to 2010. Obihiro, with a population of about 168,000 today, will have only about 131,000 people by 2040. About 40 percent are expected to be 65 or older, raising serious questions who will farm one of the country’s most productive agricultural areas. In Kushiro, famed for its seafood, the population will drop from roughly 181,000 to about 117,000 by 2040. And the number of women between the ages of 20 and 40 is only expected to be around 10,000.

In the Tohoku region, the total population is predicted to drop from 9.33 million today to 6.86 million by 2040, and then to just over 5 million by 2060. Aomori and Akita, home of apples, onsens and a dialect that — legend has it — makes it particularly easy to pronounce the French language, will be hit particularly hard. The population of Aomori is expected to drop from around 1.3 million now to 932,000 by 2040 and Akita is expected to drop from around 1 million to 700,000. The number of women between 20 and 40 in both prefectures will drop by 48 percent by 2040.

In the Kanto region, the population is expected to fall from 43.4 million to 38.6 million by 2040. Chiba’s population will decline about 900,000, while Saitama will lose about 800,000 people. Kanagawa’s population will decline by 1.6 million, from 9.9 million to 8.3 million. By contrast, neighboring Tokyo’s 23 wards will decline from 13.1 million to 12.3 million, a loss of about 800,000. Yamagata and Tochigi will lose more than one-third of women between 20 and 40 by 2040.

In the Hokuriku/Shin’estu region, the population will drop from about 7.6 million to 5.9 million, again by 2040. Niigata and Ishikawa prefectures will be hardest hit. The former will see its population decline from about 2.3 million to 1.79 million, and is predicted to lose 40 percent of its women aged 20 to 40. Fukui’s population will decline from about 806,000 to 633,000, meaning fewer locals to assist in maintaining the prefectures’ 13 nuclear power plants.

The four prefectures of the Tokai region will see their population decline from about 15.1 million to 13 million by 2040. Aichi, which includes Nagoya, will lose nearly 600,000 people, while Gifu, with a population of 2 million, will decline to about 1.65 million and lose 36 percent of its women aged 20 to 40. Shizuoka will also lose 36 percent of women from the same demographic, as well as nearly 700,000 people by 2040.

In the Kansai region, the population will decline from 20.9 million to 17.4 million. Nara will lose about 400,000 people as the population declines from 1.4 million to just over 1 million. In Wakayama, the population of 1 million will drop to about 719,000, but the number of women aged 20 to 40 will decline by 42 percent. Osaka prefecture’s population of about 8.8 million is expected to decrease to about 7.4 million.

In the Chugoku region, the population will decline from about 7.5 million to just over 6 million by 2040. Tottori will become Japan’s least-populated prefecture by then, with only an estimated 441,000 people, while neighboring Shimane Prefecture will have only 520,000. In Shimane, the number of women aged 20 to 40 will decline by 37 percent.

Shikoku’s four prefectures will see their population drop from just under 4 million to just under 3 million by 2040. Kagawa and Kochi will be particularly hard hit. Both will see a total population decline of more than 200,000 people (from 995,000 to 773,000 in Kagawa and from 764,000 to 536,000 in Kochi). Tokushima Prefecture will see the number of women drop by 44 percent.

In Kyushu, the population will decline from about 15 million to 12 million by 2040. Fukuoka Prefecture will lose about 700,000 people (5 million to about 4.3 million). Kagoshima Prefecture will lose about 400,000 people (1.7 million to 1.3 million), and predictions are that the number of women between 20 and 40 will decline by 36 percent.

Only in Okinawa does there appear to be good news. The population, currently at about 1.4 million, is only expected to drop to about 1.37 million by 2040. The bad news is that the percent of those 65 and above in the main cities of Naha and Ginowan will increase from 18 percent and 15 percent, respectively, in 2010 to 31 percent and 28 percent by 2040.

“It’s clear Masuda’s detailed warning that many towns and villages could go extinct due to the decreased number of women of child-bearing age has reverberated and changed the perception of the problem in the political world, and made leaders realize what was happening as Tokyo sucked up young people from other parts of Japan, creating a country that is overly concentrated in one area,” Kyoto Gov. Keiji Yamada said at a meeting of Kansai area business leaders in February.

So what do the above figures likely mean for the future, especially without drastic, effective policy measures at the local and national level to address population decline and aging localities?

More abandoned homes:

In a 2013 survey by the internal affairs ministry, it was discovered that 8.2 million of the more than 60 million homes nationwide were empty. This figure, however, comprises all homes empty at the time of the survey, including those that were on the property market.

The ministry estimated almost 40 percent of 8.2 million empty homes were not being offered for sale or rent. This has created a number of concerns about safety. As long as the homes were maintained by, for example, the heirs of the property, there was no problem. However, abandoned homes left to rot pose fire hazards and other dangers.

By prefecture, Kagoshima has the highest number of abandoned homes with no prospect of being occupied (11 percent of the total number of all homes, occupied or not), while the figure for Kochi is 10.6 percent. Many homes in Kagoshima are located on small, offshore islands that are rapidly going extinct (including Gunkanjima, which hopes to become a World Heritage site).

Abandoned farms, fewer smaller farms as ‘Big Agriculture’ moves in:

The agricultural ministry also warns of a coming crisis. In 2010, the ministry reported on the future of farming, noting not only decreases in the number of farms but also predicting that by 2030, nearly three-fourths of the nation’s farmers will be at least 65 years old.

With fewer farmers, consolidation is inevitable. Large farms (those that have at least 20 hectares under cultivation) are expected to grow in number, benefiting major corporations with the resources to invest in and develop the land. They account for about 20 percent of all farms nationwide this year and, by 2020, will account for 30 percent of all farms.

Aging infrastructure and fewer people to fix it:

The land and transport ministry also has cause for concern. Much of the country’s civil engineering infrastructure is aging at a time when there are fewer construction workers nationwide, but especially outside the major cities.

The total number of construction workers shrank by 27 percent between 1997 and 2011, according to the ministry. Projections indicate that by 2030, 38 percent of remaining workers will be over 65 years old, 39 percent will be between the ages of 45 and 49, and that only 3 percent of construction workers will be between 25 and 30 years old. The number of workers under 25 is so negligible as to amount to almost zero. This decline in available workers comes just as the country’s roads, bridges, canals, ports and sewage systems are getting on in years. By 2029, according to a 2010 land ministry white paper, 51 percent of the country’s roads and canals will be a half century old.

Possible tension with neighbors over “abandoned” islands:

Current disputes with South Korea over Takeshima, China over the Senakaku Islands and Russia over the Northern Territories may just be the beginning of sovereignty problems to come. From Hokkaido to Okinawa, there is growing concern that more remote islands with elderly populations currently in the low thousands or less will have to be abandoned in the coming years. There are fears the deserted islands would then tempt Japan’s East Asian neighbors to increase their naval presence around the islands and force Japan to spend more money on both defending the islands and beefing up their infrastructures.

Kazuo Ito, a visiting professor at the University of Tsukuba and a former land and transport ministry bureaucrat, says official figures put the number of uninhabited islands as of 2010 at 6,429, leaving only about 430 that are at least partially inhabited. Still, he says, determining who, if anybody, owns land on more remote islands isn’t always clear — meaning that specific government measures to protect specific depopulated or uninhabited islands can be delayed. “There are many instances where it takes time to figure out whether a particular island has an owner,” Ito says. “If the owner can be determined, the government can buy the land from them and nationalize it.”

If the owner can’t be found, he adds, it’s still possible for the government to nationalize the land. But politicians, aware of the potential problems that depopulation can pose for territorial disputes, are anxious to create new measures.

Last August, the Liberal Democratic Party proposed a bill that would provide security and revitalization funding to Japan’s outer islands, especially to Okinawa’s Yonaguni Island (just 110 km from Taiwan), Tsushima, the small islands of Oki Islands (off the coast of Shimane Prefecture), Sado Island (off the coast of Niigata Prefecture) and Hokkaido’s Okushiri Island. The LDP hopes for Diet discussion and agreement this year.

As policymakers debate the future, the warning signs of local extinctions might look like they were visible in April’s local elections. On average, nearly 22 percent of the seats up for grabs in 41 prefectural assembly races went uncontested due to lack of candidates. While there were various reasons for the lack of candidates, not just a smaller pool of those who were eligible or willing, it was particularly hard to find challengers in rural areas such as Kagawa Prefecture, where almost two-thirds of the seats went uncontested, and in Yamagata Prefecture, where 45 percent of the seats had no challengers.

Ultimately, fewer candidates is a sign of fewer voters, and an aging and declining population. In the coming years, increased voter district mergers and smaller local assemblies are inevitable, raising questions about what will happen to not only local democracy and autonomy, as well as the local tax base, but also to the very structure — and existence — of Japan itself.

  • LLLeon

    I believe that feminism is partially to blame for the declining birth rate. Women choose careers over motherhood.

    • Firas Kraïem

      I believe that if there were fewer people like you, women wouldn’t have to make that choice in the first place.

      • LLLeon

        I’ve got a niece with whom I’ve discussed this. She’s a professional, a periodontist, and, when she had her three sons, there was pressure on her from those who were militant feminists to stop bearing kids and concentrate on her career.
        She was insulted and ridiculed for doing both.

      • Phil Kong

        Feminism is nothing more than gendered Marxism. Its goal is to destroy the nuclear family.

      • Jeffrey

        You don’t really know anything about Japan, do you?

    • J.P. Bunny

      Not having sex is to blame for the declining birthrate, not feminism. Biology trumps politics.

    • Clickonthewhatnow

      They need to make it possible for women NOT to have to make that choice. Maternity leave would go a long way to solving a lot of the problem.

      • Jeffrey

        How Scandinavian of you! ; )

    • Jeffrey

      Nice try except that of all industrialized nations, Japan has one of the lowest rates of female participation in the economy and that, actually, is part of Japan’s economic problems.

  • shanchan

    Like it or not, mass immigration seems the most likely, and practical, solution to this problem. I’m sure Japan is going to hold off until it’s back is completely against the wall. Yes there will be some cultural changes, but it’s better than having your culture disappear out right.

    • Phil Kong

      No, that is the worst thing that Japan can do. They must first understand why Japanese people are not even wanting sex and then they can do SOMETHING about that. Simply importing third world immigrants will only make the Yamoto people a minority in their own ancestral nation. You forget that japan is smaller than California, and yet about 1/3 of America’s population. If anything its overpopulated. I hope that Japan never opens its borders, and instead looks inward for a solution to their birthrate.

      • shanchan

        You’re dealing with free will here. Unless they’re going to remove democracy altogether and impose a strict dictatorship there is not much they’re going to do to change people who don’t want to have sexual relations. You can’t force people to have babies. People are already struggling not making enough money as it is what makes you think they’re going to want to take up the burden of starting families when they can barely take care of themselves.

        Immigration is only part of the solution but I think Japan needs it until I can sort out its economic problems.

      • Phil Kong

        So, if people are facing economic hardship how is importing poor 3rd world immigrants going to save Japan’s native populace from the economic hardship? Its just silly what you propose, you might as well believe in magic.
        You also say nothing about my comment about Japan being overpopulated. It is true that Japan has less land than even California and yet somehow they are facing extinction? It is nonsense!

      • shanchan

        Why do you assume that all immigrants are Third World? And why do you assume that they don’t have any and education? Your comment is riddled with ignorance and xenophobia. You yourself acknowledge that Japan has to fix it’s birthrate problem, if Japan is really that overpopulated why does it need to fix a birthrate problem? Someone believes in magic alright, and it isn’t me.

        It’s true certain areas maybe overpopulated (which are also facing depopulation, just not as badly) but more areas are on the verge of collapse due to reduction in population. As I said immigration is only part of the solution. As I said immigration is only part of the solution. Decentralization needs to happen too. Japan has acknowledged that it’s lacking in the labor required to develop the infrastructure needed for that to happen. It’s not enough to just offer incentives for people to move out of our populated areas you have to provide things to keep them there.

        You don’t have to open the borders forever but immigration can help to 1) build the necessary infrastructure. 2) develop local economies 3) and stabilize the population in those areas until decentralization can take place.

        You may be fine with not dealing with a problem until it reaches critical mass but most others are not. And that’s what this recommendation is about preventing things from reaching critical mass.

      • Phil Kong

        If you don’t know Japan has a need for low skill laborers. Who else, but low skilled third worlders would ever sign up for these jobs?
        Also, it has always been the case that immigration has been about getting lowly educated masses from the third world into the first world. Look at Europe, most of the immigrants are Africans, or middle easterners (the both of which are Muslim) who leave their nation as refugees. Also in America, most immigrants are from South America who are poorly educated.
        You are ignorant of the most basic things about immigration in the first world, but it is truly telling how you jump the gun and call me a bigot. I see that you have not even the studied the way that immigration as affected the European nations, and it isn’t good! The muslim immigrants in England are demanding Sharia law and are harassing homosexuals, and Jews. So much for the wonders of multiculturalism. I see that you are a waste of time, and that the Japanese government most certainly should not take advice from you. Japan does need to do something about the BIRTHRATE, but it does not have a problem with under-population as this article suggests. Japan is better of in regards to population than most European nations because they have so much more people than the European nations. Hopefully, Japan will do something for their women who wish to have babies, such as a longer maternity leave, and lessen the long hours that companies force their men to work. But, for whatever reason, Japanese men and women have reported NO interest in sex. This is the source of their BIRTHRATE problems!

      • shanchan

        A waste of time indeed. You completely ignore hundreds of years of systematic racism, colonialism, and marginalization that has bred those negative relations, not only to peoples of color but even one another (see northern Ireland, or review “Nordic” Europe’s views/treatment of Eastern Europe). Europe is not at all guiltless in these developments. As for the harassment of gays jews, Europe has an equally long history of doing the same thing, and that persists even now. Neo-nazism and new waves of antisemitism are on the rise in Europe right now. So let’s keep things in perspective.

        You lump an entire group in with a lunatic fringe. You assume that the poor are good for nothing other than to ruin nations. Because we all know how when we were little more than zygotes in our mothers we chose to be born in a nation with little to no opportunity for a good education or betterment. So of course it only fair that these people be denied any chance to improve their lives or at the very least ensure their children don’t have to have the same struggles.

        As for jumping the gun, I did no such thing. I simply called you out on the bias you demonstrated. Your comments specifically targeted the non-white poor while overlooking the fact that many of the same assessments were made of white immigrants (poor, uneducated, and out to ruin the nation). The only difference was they had a skin tone that made it easier for them to claw their way out of the social darwinist order imposed on them and their non-white counterparts.

        Japan needs help with these issues, but given the increasing appearance of its thinly veiled nationalistic and ethnocentric tendencies, the last thing it needs is your white man’s pity party.

      • Phil Kong

        First, I am Korean and not white.
        Next, you ignore the fact that Muslims from Africa, and the middle east are the ones that are harassing Jews and are the reasons for why Jews today feel like they are being mistreated. It is today’s left that is at odds with what to do. They have to protect the Muslims from the law and make excuses for them, and on top of that they have to protect homosexuals and Jews from criticism. Instead, of just closing their borders and promoting their own native populace with reproducing they instead open their borders to a people that look at western culture as degenerate and deprave.
        Interesting, how you finally show your true colors. Its NOT at all about helping the Japanese with their birthrate problem. You want to change the very people in Japan. You have an agenda, and I am glad I was able to pry it open out of you. But, hopefully Japan, and Korea, and other productive nations can survive your cultural Marxism, and promote a healthy sense of nationalism. I wonder do you promote open borders for Israel? You know that they are by definition a nationalist state? And that they deport foreigners, and Sudanese refugees? But, most Americans are pro-Zionist for whatever reason, so are you consistent? Do you send time demanding that Israel open its borders? I hope you do, but for Israel’s sake it will be the end of them if they allow to many non-Jews to enter into their nation. And being that they are surrounded by a hostile populace it would be stupid to give up their nationalism. So, just like how it is acceptable for Israel to have a sense of nationalism, it is also acceptable for other nations to have a sense of nationalism. If you find nationalism to be a form of racism then you are forced to condemn Israel as a racist state. What is the lefty to do? This is the last response that I will make to a dunce like yourself. Nice touch calling me a white male. Its good to see your hate of white men as a source for your actions against Japan.
        >:^D

      • FeministSafeZone.blogspot.com

        ^ That’s a damn good post, Phil Kong

      • FeministSafeZone.blogspot.com

        ^ That’s a damn good post, Phil Kong

      • Phil Kong

        Why was my comment removed. It thoroughly debunked him?

      • FeministSafeZone.blogspot.com

        This is obviously a website run by politically-correct liberal westerners who feel that ‘offensive’ opinions must be censored. I wouldn’t waste much more time with this news site.

      • shanchan

        Your inept reading skills are beginning to show. I never said you were white, could tell from your name. One does not have to be white to espouse a white-is-right mentality. Furthermore, we were on the topic of Europe, which YOU brought into the discussion. Second, what hate for whites? I pointed out that these abuses existed on both sides, because you ignored that fact. I even went as far to state that white immigrants experienced the same treatment. Thirdly, I didn’t make excuses for anyone. I pointed out your bias in failing to acknowledge that the charges you laid out were not unique to one group, and that you were making umbrella statements. Which you did again, so thank you for reinforcing my point.

        What agenda? Where did i say anything about replacing the native population? I wish you wouldn’t impose your delusions on me. My suggestion was to bring in people to build up infrastructure and stabilize struggling areas while decentralization efforts brought natives back to those areas. In fact Japan has attempted to do that in some areas with its controversial “training” programs. What I suggested isn’t far off only without the labor abuse and long term to permanent stay. Additionally, I never said where they had to pull people from. It would make sense to pull them from closer asian nations first, before branching out. It was you assumed things based out of your biases.

        Now let’s get to you once bringing an unrelated territory into the conversation. If Israel is deporting people who are not breaking laws or inciting or engaging in violence then it’s wrong, even if they have opposing ideas. No civilized society should be punishing autonomy of thought. Further, the conditions affecting Israel and Japan are completely different. Israel is surrounded by hostile nations that wish to destroy it simply for existing. Caution is natural. Japan is not facing such a dire situation, and at no point did I suggest that no cautionary measures should be taken. That too was your presumption.

        At any rate good-riddance. I’d rather not devote any more time to you or delusions. Oh, and by the way, I’m conservative. Your assumptions are fascinating.

      • Viva75

        ‘increasing appearance of its thinly veiled nationalistic and ethnocentric tendencies’…There’s no ‘increasing’, they have not changed in anyway, they have been by their own choice, strictly isolationist for the better part of 2000 years. So please stop trying to wish they will change for the likes of you.

      • Viva75

        If you know anything about Japan or it’s people you will know immigration is not the answer for Japan. If they shrink, loose GDP and world power in this process, this is, for them a far more acceptable outcome than immigration. They are a very proud people that view their culture and what it is to being Japanese paramount over all else.

      • Jeffrey

        “Why do you assume that all immigrants are Third World? And why do you assume that they don’t have any and education?”

        Because statistically they are. Professionals rarely have any great incentive to come to Japan unless they are leaving war zones and even then they are unlikely to make a horizontal move occupationally due to the immense language barrier.

      • Viva75

        Well said

      • kyushuphil

        OK — why aren’t Japanese people having sex?

        Remember Kaori Shoji’s piece here a week ago, when she cited 70% of Japanese men in their twenties without girlfriends.
        So many men so uninterested in women?

        Does this inability to fathom qualities in women reflect that fact that most women have become infantilized? All those “kawaii” baby clothes on young women. All those baby voices in TV advertising — as if that’s all women can speak.

        Or does the inability of men to see much of particular interest in women come from men having been anesthetized? — by men having never developed any abilities to see individual qualities in anybody, thanks to all those group activities, all that regimentation, in school?

      • ishyg

        Add to that all the overtimes, all the nomikai parties. Damn, even their grown-ass counterparts knows how to work around the drunkenness and plant a few “touch” with the ladies.

        Like my sensei said, Japanese youth are spoiled. They’re becoming too weak, like everything’s on a plate for them. And then suddenly after school is done they’re tossed in a very hectic lifestyle of all work and no play.

        Is there an article citing if females are uninterested in men as well?

      • kyushuphil

        This, by Kaori Shoji, says women get better numbers.

        That is, she says more women than men want contact with their gender opposites, as individuals — as, like, on dates, for relationships. But she gives no specific number for the women, nor any site or survey that’s looked into this.

        So we’re left with “Out,” the great, searing, angry novel by Kirino Natsuo on how contemporary Japanese women view men.

      • Jung Kon

        I agree with you Bro.immigration is not an option for the population decline in Japan.Well most people are looking at the Japanese declining population in terms of the economy BUT their are so many more ways to look at it eg:-Culture.Also the above article dose not talk about immigration.Which clearly means that what Japanese people want is not IMMIGRATION but more Japanese people as you this connects to Increasing birthrates. BY For Example:-By

        *Promoting marriage life:-By advertising the benefits of marriage life .
        *Banning pills and condoms
        *increasing day cares in towns and cities
        *promoting big family is the best – Benefits of having a large family (2 or more Children)
        *Provide support for families who are having 3 or more children by the government of Japan
        *Reducing amount of tax charged for families with 2 or more children
        *Ban abortion.

        *and many more

      • ishyg

        “They must first understand why Japanese people are not even wanting sex”

        Which is a shame, since non-Japanese wants to have sex with Japanese.

    • Viva75

      Totally wrong. To try and impose something on a nation of people who resoundingly reject immigration as an option will not work. For a myriad of reasons mass immigration is not the answer for Japan. To Japanese, culture and what it is to be Japanese IS everything. Japan will never become extinct, this is a ridiculously statement to make. I have faith that Japan will solve this in their own unique and innovational way. They have reinvented themselves to work miracles before, don’t underestimate them.

    • Jung Kon

      I agree with you Bro.immigration is not an option for the population decline in Japan.Well most people are looking at the Japanese declining population in terms of the economy BUT their are so many more ways to look at it eg:-Culture.Also the above article dose not talk about immigration.Which clearly means that what Japanese people want is not IMMIGRATION but more Japanese people as you this connects to Increasing birthrates. BY For Example:-By like

      *Promoting marriage life:-By advertising the benefits of marriage life .
      *Banning pills and condoms
      *increasing day cares in towns and cities
      *promoting big family is the best – Benefits of having a large family (2 or more Children)
      *Provide support for families who are having 3 or more children by the government of Japan
      *Reducing amount of tax charged for families with 2 or more children
      *Ban abortion.

      *and many more

  • zer0_0zor0

    Japan is 9/10ths the size of California with a population about 1/2 that of the US. It is not underpopulated, the problem is over centralization in Tokyo, basically, and fewer small-farm farmers.

    Policies that dis-encourage centralization and over development of central areas need to be mandated, and historical areas protected by law from over development, because the development should be taking place elsewhere and those areas preserved for future generations.

    • 151E

      I don’t understand why you think centralization should be discouraged. Centralization allows public services to be provided more economically and offers citizens easier access to a wide range of restaurants and cultural venues. Furthermore, by concentrating human settlements, we can concurrently enjoy an increase in wilderness areas.

      As you point out above, Japan is most definitely not underpopulated. Given its low food self-sufficiency and near complete reliance on energy imports, I would argue that Japan is in fact overpopulated. This is a serious security risk if imports were ever interrupted by climate change, natural disaster, or war.

      So, as the population contracts to more sustainable numbers, should some communities prove unviable, why should we artificially try to preserve them?

      • zer0_0zor0

        Japan is over-centralized, and this is partly due to corruption between politicians and property developers/construction industry (i.e., organized crime).

        There are schemes, for instance, whereby developers can avoid property taxes by tearing down old houses in residential areas and paving it over with a parking lot. They have weak zoning laws in many historical places that allow developers to target them, tear down all of the trees because of a non-existent land-area to building-area (建蔽率,kenpeiritsu) standards, and they urbanize residential areas that are already located in urban areas, generating urban sprawl.

        That is different from the more generalized discussion of ‘centralization’ you described.

        The Tokyo metropolitan area is the world’s largest megalopolis. While it is not as badly polluted as many developing country cities (or Los Angeles, California) it has serious problems, one resulting in the development of the world’s first catalytic converter for diesel engines to reduce particulate matter.

        Meanwhile, there is no reason that many of the communities that are vanishing should not be viable; it is largely a matter of poor government planning and corruption.

      • 151E

        I fully agree with smarter urban planning to make more liveable cities and zoning laws to protect historic districts and sites. And, living in a small town myself, I support the efforts of small local municipalities to develop plans to encourage business and youth to stay.

        Infrastructure tends to give rise to a false sense of permanence. But in the long course of history, there is a natural ebb and tide to human settlements; I see no inherent value in quixotically fighting to preserve each and every hamlet, village, and town simply ‘because’.

        I think there is much to be learned from Detroit’s example where, instead of futilely attempting to halt the demographic tide, the city is actively redefining itself through contraction and urban intensification.

      • zer0_0zor0

        Sure, I don’t advocate frivolous use of resources, only appropriate conservation and growth, both of which require regulations that would appear to inherently contravene the profit interests of developers and speculators.

    • Jeffrey

      Agreed. Another topic, like all the hand-wringing over population, that has been discussed for literally decades. While much of the U.S. government is concentrated in and around Washington and would suffer a great blow if some enormous catastrophe struck, Japan will be utterly devastated when “the Big One” finally hits because 99% of Japan’s “command and control” and economic functions are in the Kanto.

  • Liars N. Fools

    It is to the discredit of successive Japanese administrations and their waffling that this problem has grown and grown. The problem of the aging society has been one that has been known and analyzed for at least two decades now. The passivity of the government, and in particular the glacial changes in attitude towards women are a major factor. The problem is not too much feminism but too little feminism with the government failing to enact policies that would provide better support for working mothers and hence incentives for marriage.

    The figures do not include the number of the un arrived, but impressionistically I have met a huge number of men and women who are forty and older who were never married and now are too accustomed to a single life style to even do late marriage.

    The attitudes towards immigration are overwhelmingly dominated by the views of blood purity and pollution by inferior peoples if immigration is allowed. The major positive element of inbreeding is the lack if it going on.

    • Japanese Bull Fighter

      Have you looked at fertility rates for various countries? Japan has the same fertility rate as Germany and Italy. Japan has a fertility rate higher than that of a number of European countries. Some parts of Japan have fertility rates at the very high end of the European range.

      Japan has a low fertility rate primarily because of the large fraction of the population that is concentrated in high density, expensive cities. You can see this same pattern in other countries. China has a fertility rate of 1.6, not much better than Japan at 1.4. Shanghai is 0.77 Tokyo is 1.09. In Europe Finland as a whole has a high fertility rate but Helsinki is below the Japanese national average.

      You simply do not know what you are talking about.

      • Phil Kong

        finally, someone with sense!
        :D

      • Liars N. Fools

        五十步笑百步. We are talking about Japan. But the EU countries have relatively free flows of people across borders, which mitigate their problems.

      • wrle

        This is about Japan. Based on the latest data from the Japanese National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, Japan’s population will keep declining by about one million people every year in the coming decades, which will leave Japan with a population of 86 million in 2060, in line with this article.

        China’s fertility rate is largely affected by population control regulations and China’s population is much larger. Japan has virtually no net immigration like Germany Italy and other European countries. So while those countries continue to grow every year even by a little, Japan’s real population continues to shrink as it has since 2010. Denying the statistics does not help with solving the issue.

      • Japanese Bull Fighter

        Nowhere did I deny “the statistics.” I was trying to show that Japan-specific explanations such as “no sex” are absurd because Germany and Italy have the same fertility rate and no one is claiming that Germans and Italians are not having sex. I was further trying to show that explanations phrased in terms of “Japan” are absurd because there is nearly a 2:1 ratio between high fertility and low fertility areas in Japan.

        The 0.77 fertility rate for Shanghai cannot be explained by Chinese population policy and I did not reference the overall Chinese fertility rate. But, since you raised the issue, I would point out that China, Canada, and Switzerland have essentially the same fertility rate of 1.6. No one family one child policy in either Canada or Switzerland.

        The article does not give a total population figure for 2060. It describes a decline of 30 million between 2014 and 2050. That’s about 833,000 per/year. Given that the current decline is 268,000 per/year, it’s not clear how the 2050 figure was arrived at.

        Search on “German population decline” and you will find that even with immigration, Germany has a serious population problem. Moreover, German friends tell me that much of the former GDR looks very much like rural Japan: depopulated and very old.

        Last year the Italian population grew by only 30,000 on a base of nearly 60 million despite immigration. Within the last few weeks an Italian minister of state described Italy as “dying” because of the low fertility rate.

        Far from “denying the statistics” I’m actually looking at them carefully for Japan and a number of other countries. You should do the same.

      • wrle

        Who cares about fertility ratios?We are talking about rate of the entire country. Regardless of what you say japanese bull fighter, the population of china, germany and italy grows in an upward trend while japan’s is shrinking continuously. None of those countries show a decline in population over the long term as drastically and seriously as japan. Looking”carefully” is not enough and its clear those countries are doing something better. The japanese government is not doing enough and incentives to increase birthrates is far overdue.

      • Japanese Bull Fighter

        If you look at fertility ratios within a country, you get clues as to what leads to more or less births. If you compare countries, you get clues as to which programs are effective and which are ineffective. For example, the fertility rate in Okinawa is nearly twice the fertility rate of Tokyo. If you find out why Okinawa has its high fertility rate, you get clues for raising the fertility rate elsewhere.

        Population growth is not a virtue. Population growth is not a good in and of itself.

        It is far from clear that those “countries are doing something better.” Further, Japan has implemented a number of pro-natal policies beginning in the early 90s. They have not been particularly effective, but they do exist.

        Further, the real issue is not total population but rather something called the dependency ratio, basically the number working and paying taxes relative to the number not working, not paying taxes, and drawing on public services.

        Even if the fertility rate could be increased to 2.07 tomorrow, the rate that gives a stable population in the absence of emigration and immigration, that would not fix things. Children born tomorrow would not be entering the work force until twenty or more years in the future and for some years they would be a small fraction of a predominantly aged population.

        While fertility policy is not unimportant, because of the time lag between birth and becoming a productive and tax paying citizen is more than twenty years, the far more immediate problem is how to adjust to the increasing elderly population. That is also far more important than the currently gradual population decline.

      • potfarmer

        are you living in Okinawa? do you know whose culture are Okinawans following? how long have you been living in the mainland Japan? are you married to a Japanese? you try to persuade your readers with your eloquence but your comments and blah blah are totally gay. mainland Japanese just want NOT to propagate while Okinawans share the love for having kids.

      • Japanese Bull Fighter

        Living in Japan since 1971. Married to a Japanese. Two kids. Japanese citizen.

        Okinawa is not the only prefecture with a high fertility rate. Generally prefectures in western Japan have higher fertility rates than those in eastern Japan.

        I do not try to persuade with eloquence but rather hard data and logic.

      • Jeffrey

        “Further, the real issue is not total population but rather something called the dependency ratio, basically the number working and paying taxes relative to the number not working, not paying taxes, and drawing on public services.”

        Exactly. Japan does not want an increase in population. In fact, Japan’s population decline, being on a glide path if you will, is a positive in a such a highly urbanized country. Last year, more people died than were born. If this trend continues, as I’ve contended for about 30 years, Japan should achieve a better population balance and the dependency ratio will be better balanced.

        If Japan wants to increase immigration, that’s fine, though it’s unlikely that professionals will be inclined to come given the language hurdle, something that is less an issue in unskilled labor, which is really the only place Japan “needs” a population boost for it’s economy.

        Then there is the whole issue of so many Japanese being under-employed to begin with (Japan’s per capita productivity is below that of most OECD nations) coupled with the on going problem of the lack of women in the workforce, particularly in management.

    • Viva75

      The attitudes towards immigration are entirely Japan’s to decide upon and quite frankly nobody else. If they want to keep blood purity and not open the flood gates to inferior immigrants, good on them, I can understand that, and I respect that.

      • zer0_0zor0

        I think it’s as much (if not more) about culture and continuity, mutual intelligibility as ‘blood purity’ per se.

        It’s not like immigrants that are not familiar with Japan and can’t speak the language can integrate into society in a meaningful way, so I also understand and support the opposition to such nonsensical proposals, which also come from advocates of the debunked theory of multiculturalism.

      • Viva75

        Agreed

  • cslyp

    Considering the shrinking population, Japan needs to step up its land use laws and reduce the sprawling footprint of its towns and small cities in rural areas.

    Though these places are already declining in population, they are still sprawling more and more with car-centric development. Not only is this an eye-sore and bad for the environment, supporting such infrastructure is not sustainable economically in times of depopulation. Also, elderly cannot get around in car-centric sprawling
    ghost towns since walking and public transportation are not feasible in such settings.

    Declining areas should consolidated and the worst areas should be returned to more of a natural state.

  • Paul Martin

    As Bob Dillion once said ” The times they are achanging ” Conservative Japanese MUST understand and realize that NO MATTER how powerful the right may be at present the generation gap between the older and disillussioned younger folk will NOT disappear and it is the young who WILL inherit Japan !

    • Ernest Schaal

      As a practical matter, the problem is that the Conservative Japanese LDP hate women working but desperately need them to work, they look down on pregnant women, but need Japanese women to produce workers and cannon fodder for the wars needed to revive the Japanese Imperial Empire, and they distrust immigrants but need them to take care of them as they grow senile. I seriously doubt that the LDP will ever solve that problem.

    • kyushuphil

      Does “Bob Dillion” have any connection to Bob Dylan, who said the same thing?

      • Paul Martin

        Ty exactly even I make mistakes sometimes

      • kyushuphil

        Me, too. Errors, goofs, typos.

        Disqus, however, lets me off. Which I see you know also — as you’ve gone to “edit” function — which I, too, do when apprised of my own errors, goofs, typos.

  • Paul Martin

    As Bob Dillion once said ” The times they are achanging ” Conservative Japanese MUST understand and realize that NO MATTER how powerful the right may be at present the generation gap between the older and disillussioned younger folk will NOT disappear and it is the young who WILL inherit Japan !

  • Jamie Bakeridge

    This goes to the heart of the problem Japan faces – corporate and political. Here we have a clear problem that affects the very existence of the country. But no one can make a decision on measures to counter it. So instead they do what Japan does best – they stare like frightened rabbits into the path of the oncoming train – paralysed by indecision.

  • J.P. Bunny

    The men and women of Japan are not making enough babies to replenish the population, a highly personal matter with no quick fix. Love potions in the water, maybe?

    As for the extinction of rural towns and villages, maybe it’s triage time. Young people may have been “sucked up by Tokyo”, but not forcibly. People leave these places because they want to. The same reasoning goes for getting people to live in these places, they need to want to live there, which most don’t want to do. Yes, the government could offer me a free home and land in one of these rural areas, but would it pay me the money that I would lose by moving away from my job? If no, could it guarantee my an equally satisfying, well paid position? Even if the answer is yes, would I want to live someplace where the nearest shop is somewhere over the hills, and the locals don’t trust newcomers?

    Towns with declining populations that can not support themselves should be allowed to fade away rather than kept on life support.

  • http://www.sunsetreflector.blogspot.com/ MyDearGirls

    Japan has taken to the book-reading but simply put for starters, it is now too late for them to address their domestic problem.

  • Smile

    Smile • 4 minutes ago

    We face a similar problem in major cities in Canada right now. A 7-year declining economy, ever-rising housing costs completely out of proportion with stagnant wages, fewer living-wage, family-supporting jobs every year, more and more low-paying jobs with part-time hours or temporary contracts, is causing more and more young adults to delay moving out of their parents’ homes, marriage, first home purchase, and having children. The birth rate stays below the replacement rate. Our governments response has been to increase immigration, to keep total population growth around 5%/year, and also to bring in hundreds of thousands of low-paid Temporary Foreign Workers, to fill an alleged “labour-shortage”. The import of hundreds of thousands of mostly highly-educated, middle-class workers, who must frequently settle for low-paying unskilled work, drives down wages and increases demand for low-cost housing, and so makes the job-shortage and housing-shortage all the more acute.

    Prominent articles on The Economist and Forbes decry Japan’s “population black hole”, and “shrinking population crisis”. Japan’s ultra-low fertility rate, coupled with no strong immigration policy, are allegedly causing a devastating shortage of workers, which will collapse Japan’s economy. If Japanese young adults face a shortage of living-wage jobs, and a shortage of affordable housing, then these claims sound dubious. A shortage of workers should result in higher wages. A shortage of new household formations (lower demand for homes) should result in lower prices for homes. A lack of international real estate investment, should keep local housing prices tied to local wages, and therefore affordable to local workers.

    Perhaps Japan’s declining economy isn’t caused by a rapidly declining population. Perhaps Canada’s declining economy isn’t caused by a rapidly growing population. Perhaps major economies rise and decline as a cycle of capitalism, or perhaps both economies are simply equalizing in an ever more globalized world economy, to more closely resemble the living standards currently seen in developing economies around the world. My coworker from Mexico says it’s perfectly normal for adults in her country to live with their parents until they get married, and not uncommon for a married couple to share a family home with one set of their parents as well as their children. In Europe too, multiple generations sharing a home is considered normal.

    Perhaps Japan’s government has taken a better-thought-out approach to cushioning their people from the discomfort of life in a declining economy. By taking no special steps to stimulate population growth, japanese young people at least face no extra competition for an inevitable post-decline reality of limited jobs and housing.

    Perhaps the angst felt by so many Canadians and Japanese aged 20-40 years old, is caused by our own unrealistic cultural expectations. Our parents thought it was normal for a young married couple to achieve full employment, high wages, benefits, a single detached home, 1 or 2 cars, new electronics, and occasional family vacations. These goals were so easily attainable in our parents’ lifetimes, a person who did not attain them was considered abnormal. Yet, for most of pre-1945 Canadian history, this lifestyle was not attainable for most Canadians. In most of the world today, even for most people in BRIC countries, this lifestyle is a lofty new goal, but not yet achieved by most people. I think that for most of human history, simply being able to probably provide your offspring a basic subsistence, was the only requisite to marriage and parenthood. If you could do that, you felt good about yourself, and ready to try. Perhaps young adults the world over ought to lighten up on ourselves and potential partners about career disappointments, and just let love happen. Anyone else got a better idea?

  • Luc

    Y’know, I was always told that Japan had one of the highest human populations in the world… What’s this decline talk about, really?

    • ishyg

      They might have mistaken Japan for China, or Japan for Tokyo.

      • 151E

        Or mistaken population for population densities.

  • J&B

    The root of the problem is lack of births. We just need to get back to valuing motherhood and children over careers or luxurious living. People will always put what they value most first, and sadly it’s not children right now. We have to become less selfish and willing to sacrifice personal freedoms and ambitions and make room in our lives for 3,4,or even 7 children.

  • Rick Noelle

    The obvious answer is Honda ASIMO version 17.0, to be released in the year 2030. Able to build roads, repair sewer systems, maintain abandoned homes and drive a mean tractor. Upon encountering humans, ASIMO is quick to expound upon the virtues of family life and abundant child bearing. Yes ladies and gentleman, robots will be the inevitable savior preventing Japan’s extinction.

  • http://www.stevequayle.com/ Boni Biggun

    Manipulated population numbers aside, FUKUSHIMA makes Japan an inevitable Island chain of extinction (that E.L.E. also extending to the entire world!) Shalom.

    • Phil Kong

      You apocalyptic loons are crazy.

  • Sileighty671

    If the Japanese gov would stop incentivising work by dorking around with the
    economy Japanese would have more hope for the future and create larger
    families. Inflation and stagnation has drained the people of their dreams. Every country with a centrally controlled economy fails, along with their population. If the gov would stop inflation, people would have more leisure time, time for families. It is the total dedication to work which is simply trying to keep up with increasing costs of living that stops people from planning a future with children. Most Japanese just think it’s too expensive and time consuming to have a family.

  • Jae Hwan Jung

    Hey, Japan Times, Korea’s fertility rate is 1.187 which is the lowest among OECD country. Korea will disappear before Japan, so don’t worry?

    • Phil Kong

      I worry for korea as well. But, I hope that they resist the solutions that Europe has come to accept. If not, then we will see Koreans becoming a minority in their own nation just like how Englanders are becoming a minority by 2060…

  • sfcster

    The tone of this article is that declining population is bad. That is wrong.

    The decline in Japan’s population (and a similar decline of population in other countries) is a great blessing for the world. Japan became grossly overpopulated in the 20th century – as did most of the countries on the planet. A decline in population by 30 – 50% will be disruptive for a few decades, then a new balance and better society will be achieved.

    Japan and several other countries are facing the decline in population first, and the decisions those societies make (or fail to make) and the ways in which those countries deal with population decline will be examples for others to learn from. Countries can be just as productive, powerful and “successful” with less than half of their current population. Will societies change as their population levels off and declines? Yes, and that change can and should be for the better.

    The people and leaders in Japan need to embrace the prospect of several decades of decline in population and use their intelligence and creativity to produce a new and better Japan with a smaller population.

  • Phil Kong

    Is someone removing my comments? Why? I made a valid comparison to Israel, and even argued that the only people willing to enter into japan are those can work for minimum wage for back breaking labor are lowly educated third world immigrants. Why was it removed?

  • sfcster

    This article is written from the point of view that declining population is bad. That view is wrong.

    The decline in
    Japan’s population (and a similar decline of population in other
    countries) is a great blessing for the world. Japan became
    grossly overpopulated in the 20th century – as did most of the
    countries on the planet. A decline in population by 30 – 50%
    will be disruptive for a few decades, then a new balance and
    better society will be achieved.

    Japan and several
    other countries are facing the decline in population first, and
    the decisions those societies make (or fail to make) and the
    ways in which those countries deal with population decline will
    be examples for others to learn from. Countries can be just as
    productive, powerful and “successful” with less than half of
    their current population. Will societies change as their
    population levels off and declines? Yes, and that change can and
    should be for the better.

    The people
    and leaders in Japan need to embrace the prospect of several
    decades of decline in population and use their intelligence and
    creativity to produce a new and better Japan with a smaller
    population.

    • Jay

      Scroll down and you’ll see that I made much the same point. Japan and countries like it need to get over the ‘economics as some sort of Olympic competition’ syndrome and settle into a sustainable model of balanced living. Japan was once the world’s second largest economy, but 150 years earlier, it wasn’t even in the top ten. There is nothing wrong with it being 8 or 9 or 10 again (who cares?), so long as the people have sufficient employment and food to eat. As for those hundreds of little islands, perhaps Japan should consider giving them up, instead of committing vast resources to defending them, and for what? The money saved might be better employed elsewhere, for instance in supporting new small businesses with advanced technologies, or energy efficency and infrastructure. Fewer farmers? Fewer mouths to feed, lower imports. Fewer people? Less need for more highways, bridges, public officials. Japan will get by very well with a highly educated population and a long tradition of developing new technologies.

  • J Steel

    While this is indeed an issue, unfortunately people aren’t analyzing this through the right perspective. Japan extinct? What kind of sensationalism is this. Japan didn’t even have a population over 100 million until around 1970. Yes, it’s only been about 45 years since Japan has had a population of over 100 million. For most of its history we’re talking a steady 50 million. As for caring for the young, an ever-increasing population is not a necessary solution. Children growing up with better economic opportunities, nutrition, and education are vastly more efficient, it is not a one to one ratio that is needed for elderly care. Japan also has over 10 times the population density as the U.S.

    What I want to challenge people is thus to ask the right questions? What is it that is so fearful of Japan’s declining population? Maybe it’s the corporations that are worried, a fair assessment in my opinion. Maybe a decline in world influence, perhaps. But to claim that it is an “extinction” problem or caring for the elderly apocalypse is crazy thinking in my opinion.

    So what can be done? Immigration, support for more births, and better worker efficiency come to mind. I think the latter two are the best possibilities. Better worker efficiency involves maybe stimulating the female work force and more advancements in technology (eg. robotics). Increased support for births is also a strong option. Immigration is not a good option. People seem to confuse the role immigration actually plays. There is no way that immigration will offset the problem Japan faces. Immigration that will actually increase Japan’s population will need to be incredibly large. And there are many examples that show that immigration of this nature is having massive detriments to countries all around Europe, it is actually emptying the financial coffers of European countries, fragmenting European societies, and draining the social net of these countries. Immigration that is actually useful are for particular high-skilled and educated people that will contribute to Japan’s national development. Countries all around the world want these people, they are in high demand and in short supply. Even for this coveted group of people you similarly want them to at least appreciate Japanese culture as well and actually be able to enjoy living there. You’re not going to be getting enough of these people to offset any population decline.

  • Dayana Rodriguez

    I think the principal issue with the birth rate are high taxes and a expensive way to live, is they promote the marriage and gave birth with better economics the people will have more babies, but if is still really expensive are hard for an adult pay for his room and the job is not well pay they will not have time, money and interest in have children with all the cost that form a family means

  • jon

    Very simple they have educated the last 2 generations of people well.. very well and that education leads to less children born because most women now days have a career and don’t want to just be parents so they are more educated to get a career first and put yourself in a position to take care of your child and then instead of have 6 or 7 kids they have one or maybe two because that is how a smart person does it when they don’t have the government paying for it.

  • Jeffrey

    Point taken except that the U.S. had about the same population in 1870 and the UK less than that. However, Japan was not impressing anyone in the West in 1870. In fact, that was the beginning of the period when Japan would first industrialize.

    Your points are mine as well concerning a smaller Japan can still thrive.

  • Tomoko Endo

    Japanese population, 150000000, 2013→120000000,2014.
    About 30000000died?
    In Toky, a few people are at a station at A.M.10.00-11.00.

  • Tomoko Endo

    Japan is not as No.1 and that’s obvious, because Japan is not so a rich culture country. Appearance of cities and villeges are less atractive than European beautiful countries.

  • Tomoko Endo

    Now, statistic said that 30%of thirties are not married. 50%femal workers are temporary workers. Moreover,femal temporary workers of fifties tend to be cut their jobs, a news said.
    Japanese female workers incomes are 60 % of men’s.

  • Tomoko Endo

    However, older genaration has discrimination to every aspects. And they are too proud to foreign people.
    The genaration are born before the war.
    They are living at a old Japan.
    The gap between genarations are big.

    And invasion of Korean cults is very grave.
    They kill Japanese with high and low tecnologies. The psychiatrists of cults treat them as mental patients and torture them. 200000 patients are hospitalaized more than 1 year and many are in hospitals more than 20 years.

  • Tomoko Endo

    Twitters call psychiatrists as dealers of drugs. Mental patients addict to them.
    Parmacies kill patients by this kind drugs and injection of vaccine.
    We regard this as opium war.
    The information said that gov. gives 5000000 yen per a patient a year to hospitals. It is said that doctors found new targets, girls. They make girls steril by injections.

  • feltip

    The news about fall in population is not something new to Japan. How can this alarming change in demography be addressed? Allowing large scale immigration or taking refugees is something that is not advisable method. In such case the country will end up filling itself with garbage if immigration is sought as the remedy. Those who support immigration may feel furious by the word garbage, however, can anyone site a singe example in the modern history of the immigration/acceptance of refugees making up a constructive population? Of course, US is different, because the government has been able to scan the incoming population in much more efficient way than any other country. And selective immigration can be good if countries can ensure a US like method. The best example I would remember is UK or many other EU states which is already facing a large scale immigration/refugee problem. And many of them (or their next generations) who come for shelter end up becoming the most notorious anti-nationals mostly in the name of religion(s). And for the west or the east, Japan is a land they all want to get in.
    I believe Japan needs to look at its own population to to address this crisis. The work culture and and the partying culture have already affected the family relations of many. Working till late night and then going to partying or moving from one Izakaya to another is not something that healthy to a family relation. It is not easy to suggest ways out. But probably the government should encourage people to spend more time with family rather than killing family life by pressuring for over work. How many ministries in the Japan allow a family-work balance? In my knowledge, 40 percent of the employees in ministry stays over time every day irrespective of a valid reason or not. Many of the younger staff says it is difficult to leave before their boss leaves. End that culture. Let people spend time with their family.
    Izakaya’s and office parties has become very much part of the culture. But ensuring a time limit of 2100 in the evening to close such establishments will ensure people get home early, or at least spending less money for izakayas. I am also not sure what is the role played by Pachinkos to economy? Is that something an indivisible part or is it just that they give shelters to some Yakuzas? The government must allow entertainment establishments that are good for family to enjoy together not any maid cafe or other sexual service dens which drains out men’s money, or atleast try putting a cap in the operation of such places.
    Treat women with respect at work places. Women employees are often seen as a those appointed to serve male colleagues. Can any Japanese deny this? In many offices women are the ones who make coffee for others. Hardly men does this. Once someone told me that we are treating them like this because they are not committed to office work. Once they get married they will leave office. So why should not we use them for office assistant type works !! Things should change immediately. Whatever minor changes some institutions claimed to have made are too negligible to make any difference. The government must intervene into this matter urgently and strongly.