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Japan’s population dilemma, in a single-occupancy nutshell

by

Staff Writer

This is the first of a five-part series on the population woes caused by Japan’s graying society and low birthrate.

It’s not your typical futuristic city. But if you want to see what Tokyo and the rest of Japan will soon look like, the Takashimadaira housing complex in northern Tokyo’s Itabashi Ward may be the place to visit.

It’s a massive, 43-year-old residential complex of 29 buildings, each 14 stories high.

At a glance, it may look like just another quiet danchi (public condominium), but inside, the population changes of the past few decades have wrought change unimaginable when it was built.

When the Takashimadaira complex opened in 1972, the community was full of hopeful young couples. The average age of its 20,000 residents was 25.5.

The population surged to about 30,000 within a few years, of whom about 10,000 were children 14 or younger.

Today, the population stands at about 15,000, of whom 50.2 percent are 65 or older, and there are only 644 children in the vast complex, a survey taken in October said.

“About half of the elderly people are living alone. Many unmarried people are living (there), too, so about 40 percent of the total 15,000 population are living on their own,” said Yoshio Muranaka, founder of the community newspaper Takashimadaira Shimbun, in a recent interview.

“Takashimadaira symbolizes the near future of Japan,” he said.

The rapid and drastic demographic changes experienced by Takashimadaira may reflect what is underway in society as a whole.

The nation’s total fertility rate (the number of children a woman bears in her lifetime if she bore children according to the age-specific birth rate of each generation of a given year ), stood at a record low of 1.42 in 2014. A population usually shrinks if its TFR is lower than 2.1.

According to a simulation by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, Japan will lose one-third of its 128 million people by 2060, and the ratio of elderly, defined as those 65 or older, will surge to 39.9 percent from the current 24.1 percent during the same period.

“No country in world history has seen such a rapid decrease of its population in an age of a peaceful and rich society,” said Noriko Tsuya, a professor at Keio University who studies demographics.

If the population crisis is left unattended it will shatter the national goal embraced since Japan’s late 19th century modernization: to become a global economic powerhouse and a leading player on the world stage.

Japan’s gross national income accounted for 15 percent of the world’s total in 1995. It will fall to 5.2 percent in 2050 and a mere 1.7 percent in 2100 if the current trend continues, according to a simulation by the Japan Center for Economic Research (JCER), a Tokyo-based think tank affiliated with the Nikkei business daily.

The economic impact of the nation’s rapid graying has been keenly felt at Takashimadaira.

Muranaka ran a children’s clothes shop for 22 years, only to close it in 1996 as the number of children drastically fell.

Other child-related businesses shut down, too, ranging from toy shops, photo shops, a swimming school and cram schools to clothing shops for young mothers, Muranaka recalled.

“Fewer children means less consumption. A shortage of children has ruined the town,” he said.

Demographers say the biggest factor in the low fertility rate is the high numbers of single people, followed by a decrease in the number of children married couples have.

This might mean Japan will see a drastic increase in lifelong singles, as is the case with Takashimadaira. The nuclear family concept is collapsing and will force an eventual redesign of the tax and social security systems.

According to the welfare ministry, as of 2010, 20.1 percent of men aged 50 and 10.6 percent of women the same age have never married and are unlikely to do so.

The welfare ministry’s white paper for 2015 predicted those ratios will be 29 and 19.2 percent, respectively, in 2035, as more people choose not to get married.

“From now on, we will have more and more unmarried elderly people, in particular men. But all the social systems of this country, including the tax, public pension and public nursing systems, are based on the assumption that everyone will have a family,” said Tsuya of Keio University. “This tradition is now collapsing in Japan.”

For example, the public nursing system for the elderly is designed to support family members who are looking after an elderly person at home. It has not yet addressed single-person households.

A rapidly aging society with fewer children will also make it much more costly to support the elderly, sapping the disposable income of the working generation. This means Japan will be far poorer than now, said Sumio Saruyama, lead economist at JCER.

“Japan has spent too much of its social security budget on the elderly rather than on the child-raising generation,” Saruyama said. “We need to fix this. Otherwise, the tax and social security systems won’t be sustainable.”

Is there any way to save Japan from this population crisis?

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has recently started advocating a higher national birth rate of 1.8, instead of the current 1.42, to ensure the populace will be at least 100 million in fifty years’ time — the government’s first population target.

Abe has also pledged to create 500,000 new slots at day care centers by early next decade.

Many economists and demographers welcomed Abe’s efforts to put more emphasis on the child-raising generation, but they doubt it will work.

JCER conducted research on 32 developed countries and found that those providing more public benefits to child-raising households, particularly in-kind benefits, such as those for day care services, tend to have higher birth rates.

If a country raises the in-kind benefits for a child-raising household by 1 percentage point of its gross domestic product, it raises the birthrate by 0.5 point, JCER claimed.

Thus JCER said Japan would need to spend 1.5 percent of its gross domestic product, a sum of ¥8 trillion for now, on child-raising households to boost the TFR to 1.8 from the current 1.42.

If Japan accepts 200,000 immigrants a year on top of that, the population would stabilize at around 90 million in 2100, according to the simulation by JCER.

Abe’s government adopted the target of 1.8 after examining policy proposals from JCER. But it has ruled out the second proposal — throwing open the doors to immigrants — in a reflection of Abe’s conservative support base.

Instead, Abe’s government has only eased visa regulations for skilled professionals and for temporary workers needed in specific understaffed manufacturing industries.

Tsuya of Keio University, too, remains highly skeptical about the effectiveness of Abe’s pledge and measures to boost the TFR to 1.8.

The population will keep aging faster than that of any other major nation, making it extremely difficult to prevent shrinkage, she said.

“It took 126 years for France to see the ratio of the elderly aged 65 or older increase from 7 to 14 percent. In Japan, it took just 24 years,” Tsuya pointed out.

So far, no major country has succeeded in rebooting its TFR from below 1.5, Tsuya said.

Moreover, most developed countries that do succeed, including France and the nations of northern Europe, have tangibly greater gender equality and family-friendly legal regulations than Japan, Tsuya said.

This means the government should not set unrealistic targets for TFR. Rather, it should implement long-term measures to improve the quality of life for individual families, even if they may have little impact on helping the country achieve its macro-economic goals, she argued.

  • Sharad Majumdar

    The answer is so clear, yet myopic policy makers in Tokyo refuse to see it: immigration! I don’t mean the no-holds barred free-for-all currently happening in Europe and which has historically fueled American demographics, but a considered opening up of long-term residency options for select groups. We could implement a needs-based immigration policy, like Australia, where we offer long-term immigration to young people with certain skills that are in short supply in the country. We could look at increasing refugee numbers, especially skilled refugees from culturally akin nations from East and South-East Asia. We might even look to offer long-term residency following a “citizenship test” format like what UK uses, to check if candidates are understanding of Japanese society and willing to assimilate. I don’t understand why we must act as if this demographic decline is Japan’s inexorable fate when it very obviously doesn’t have to be.

    • Kevin

      Great idea. Big problem with it though is that Japan is gradually becoming a less and less desirable place to live. You have a dying economy, a problematic demographics and an unhappy and inward-looking populace with a low tolerance for foreigners. Added to that you have the massive language and cultural adjustments to deal with.

      If you’re a wealthy and/or skilled Indian or Chinese person why on earth would you choose Japan over far more appealing countries like Australia, Canada, NZ etc. As your last resort?

      • Ron Lane

        Spot on!

      • http://batman-news.com labjmh

        Absolutely! Even if Abe took a liberal immigration policy, I doubt the “right” foreigners would like to go there. The Japanese society is xenophoblc, esp. against other colored peoples. Maybe it is wiser for them to be prepared for a new status as a second-class state. Anyway, the glorious era since Meiji Period was long enough.

      • The Disturbed One

        There are thousands of people living in BRICS countries who could skill up, learn Japanese, understand how to fit in into Japanese culture, and come to settle here.

      • Lorenzo Amato

        And all this for what? If Japan is almost the richest country in the world, ok, but if it’s not (and it’s quickly loosing its status), why bother? At some point, when other contries will be as rich as Japan, it will be Japan’s duty to offer more to skilled foreigner in order to attract them.

      • The Disturbed One

        Yes – competition is good. Japan will have to offer more when things start heating up.

      • Steve Jackman

        Japan cannot offer what it doesn’t have.

      • The Disturbed One

        Yes – competition is good. Japan will have to offer more when things start heating up.

      • Steve Jackman

        “There are thousands of people living in BRICS countries who could skill up, learn Japanese, understand how to fit in into Japanese culture, and come to settle here.” The problem is that most Japanese do NOT want foreigners to “fit in into the Japanese culture”. They want foreigners to be outsiders forever in Japan, accept their position as second-class and subordinate to the Japanese, and readily accept when they are discriminated against in housing, employment, schooling and almost all other facets of life. Surveys in Japan have repeatedly shown that the majority of Japanese do not want immigrants coming to Japan, so why should they?

      • The Disturbed One

        My friends and I haven’t faced any discrimination in housing (rented accomodation which we found through agents), employment and schooling (almost all our kids go to various private schools).

      • Steve Jackman

        That’s about as believable as me saying that I saw an elephant riding a bicycle on my way to work the other day.

      • The Disturbed One

        But yes, I have never tried to rent a private house. If I had tried, perhaps my experience would have been different.

        My friends and I have been able to get rental contracts signed within two weeks without guarantors and without paying a single penny in agent fees or key money.

        Actually, when I refer a friend, I get 5000 Yen paid TO ME from the agent, and my friend who signs the contract gets 10000 Yen paid to THEM, from the agent. :-)

        If you don’t believe me, please visit www dot urhousing dot com please!

      • Steve Jackman

        “Absolutely! Even if Abe took a liberal immigration policy, I doubt the “right” foreigners would like to go there.” You are absolutely right. Japanese society will never accept immigrants. This has been shown in many surveys of the Japanese people and it is confirmed by the widespread racism, xenophobia and discrimination which is faced by foreign residents of Japan on an almost daily basis.

      • The Disturbed One

        Dying economy? Kindly present some facts and data to support your point please!

        Demographic problem – Abe San and the government are already taking steps. Target population is 100 million. Highly skilled people I know who took the effort to live together and marry already have at least 1 to 2 kids.

        Inward looking populace with low tolerance for foreigners – well – can’t help it can we?

        Less desirable place to live? Mate – have you tried living in New Delhi or Mumbai or central Johannesburg?

        I know several dozen foreigner families who are living and working here without any problems whatsoever. Some of them do face challenges with the language, but they are really happy that they don’t have to worry a bit about safety.

        Ah the pleasure of being able to walk alone in the night at 1 AM without any worry!

      • Kevin

        “Dying economy? Kindly present some facts and data to support your point please!”

        Umm, you’re joking tight? Well, the fact Japan has practically been in recession the past 20 years. Among lowest growth in developed world in the past 30 years not to mention deflation for the same period. You have shrinking major industries especially electronics industry. Low income levels and low income rises compared to other developed nations. Need I go on?

        “Less desirable place to live? Mate – have you tried living in New Delhi or Mumbai or central Johannesburg?”
        Yes, but we are talking about immigrants FROM these poorer countries leaving their homes for a better life, right?! So people FROM India and South Africa have the following choices:
        NZ
        Australia
        Canada
        Japan
        Which do you think is the least attractive to them?

      • The Disturbed One

        For English speaking people from BRICS countries, Japan may not be the most attractive due to language.

        But for those who couldn’t get any opportunities in the English speaking countries, Japan is a pretty good choice, if they can learn Japanese.

      • Kevin

        So you think it’s okay that Japan gets other countries’ rejects? That is probably the reality though.

      • The Disturbed One

        “Other countries rejects” – I think that is a rather negative way of thinking. Can we be more positive please!

        The question is – can the people who come here work hard and contribute to the economy?

        Can they obey all Japanese laws and respect Japanese culture without attempting to impose the culture of their home countries?

        The way I see it – Japan is a safe country with excellent infrastructure. The Japanese people are quite concerned about immigration (a very valid concern), and they have already opened up the doors to highly skilled professionals who meet the criteria to get jobs here.

        Sure, people may prefer AU / NZ / CAN or Singapore / HK – but I know non-Japanese people who moved to Tokyo from Singapore because they loved Japan!

      • Kevin

        I agree with most of what you are saying, except;

        “Can they obey all Japanese laws and respect Japanese culture without attempting to impose the culture of their home countries?”

        Tell me one example of how this could happen. I can’t think of one example. An Indian family comes to Japan to live – how do they ‘impose’ their culture on Japan?! By cooking Indian food in their home? By speaking an Indian language? How!?

      • The Disturbed One

        Hi Kevin – please allow me to share a solid example.

        “Sharia Patrols” are a clear example of imposition.

        Please search in Youtube for “Sharia Patrol” and click on the first search result.

      • Kevin

        Fair enough. Haven’t seen that in my country in NZ though we don’t have a very large Muslim population. I think in the UK there is quite a lot of segregation of cultures.

      • Lorenzo Amato

        Problem now is that Japan is becoming less and less attractive for other non-Muslim Asian people. This has to be rectified fast, even with easier access to Visas and longer permissions of stay. I have many skilled European people who gave up, as they could not find an apartment to rent, ’cause they didn’t have a bank account, and they didn’t have a bank account ’cause they didn’t have a job, and they could not get a job because they didn’t have an apartment. This is just crazy, and in the long term Japan cannot efford it.

      • The Disturbed One

        I understand.

        My friends from India faced these challenges too when they came here.

        1. Apartment – they mostly opted for UR Housing or JKK – they don’t discriminate against foreigners.

        2. Bank account – they mostly opted for Shinsei Bank – which might be the only bank in Japan with English online banking.

        I don’t understand how someone couldn’t get a job because they didn’t have an apartment.

        When I applied for a job, I never had to give any proof of address. I only had to provide address proof documents AFTER I signed the offer letter and joined the workplace.

        Personally, I am happy to help any skilled person legally settle in Japan and get them across the apartment and bank account hurdles.

      • Steve Jackman

        “”Other countries rejects” – I think that is a rather negative way of thinking. Can we be more positive please!” It’s not negative, it is reality.

        Almost no skilled foreign professionals have come to Japan as a result of Japan’s new points based system, because Japan is not an attractive destination for skilled professionals. This topic has been covered in this newspaper and others, so I suggest you do a Google search. Several surveys have also shown that the vast majority of Japanese do not want immigrants and are extremely uncomfortable having foreigners live amongst them. Given these facts, I’m not sure why your comments are spreading what seems like false propaganda.

      • The Disturbed One

        I speak from my own experience.

        My experience, and the experience of several others whom I personally know, have been different.

      • Steve Jackman

        I am an American who has been living and working as a professional in Japan for over a decade. Your comments about living and working in Japan (especially, since you don’t even speak Japanese) are about as credible to me as someone saying that pigs can fly.

      • The Disturbed One

        Just to you.

        Time spent here matters only to an extent.

        Attitude matters much more.

      • Steve Jackman

        Countries get the immigrants they deserve. Japan does not deserve the best immigrants due to the poor way it treats non-Japanese, so it will always be a third or fourth choice for most immigrants.

      • Steve Jackman

        “if they can learn Japanese”. I’m not sure why anyone should make a huge investment in learning Japanese, given that they will never be allowed to be part of Japanese society. I know many long-term foreign residents of Japan who speak native level Japanese, yet they are still considered as outsiders, are discriminated against in everything from employment to housing, and routinely face racism and xenophobia in their daily lives here in Japan. Japanese is of little use to them in Japan and is absolutely useless to them if and when they decide to leave Japan. The cost/benefit for learning Japanese is just not worth it.

      • The Disturbed One

        And I have read different stories on GaijinPot (and other forums), and have my own experience, and the experience of several of my friends to back up the points I make.

      • Charles

        Didn’t you just write that you don’t “speak or read even a word of Japanese?”

      • The Disturbed One

        GaijinPot posts are mainly in English though there are plenty with Japanese text in them.

      • Steve Jackman

        As both you and I know, it is almost impossible to live and work in any meaningful way in Japan if you do not speak Japanese, as is the case with The Disturbed One. Almost no one in Japan (at work or in the broader society) speaks English, so his comments make absolutely no sense.

      • The Disturbed One

        I disagree respectfully and have a logical counterpoint too.

        There are hundreds of IT engineers from India working here who don’t speak Japanese. With their contribution, Japanese companies are able to deliver better services to their customers.

      • Steve Jackman

        “I know several dozen foreigner families who are living and working here without any problems whatsoever. Some of them do face challenges with the language, but they are really happy that they don’t have to worry a bit about safety.” What kind of Kool-Aid have you been drinking?

      • The Disturbed One

        I drink Japanese green tea. Perhaps you should try some too!

      • Steve Jackman

        Look up the meaning of “drinking Kool-Aid” by Googling it.

  • The Disturbed One

    Japan already offers permanent residency within just 3 years for people who gather 70 points and are eligible for a highly skilled visa.

    It is important for the Japanese to preserve their culture, and continue to be one of the safest countries in the world, rather than become a victim of multiculturalism like some European countries.

    • Kevin

      Japan should ‘preserve’ their culture? They are not interested in doing that. Why else would traditional festivals, work skills and ways of traditional life and culture be falling rapidly every year. How would immigration reduce Japanese culture further than self-reduction!?

      • Charles

        There are plenty of ways to estimate which foreigners will help “preserve Japanese culture,” for example:
        – Testing them on Japanese culture with a standardized test on Japanese culture, and using the results to determine who gets a visa, and who gets a better visa.
        – Giving better visas to foreigners who majored in Japanese Area Studies in university.
        – Giving better visas to foreigners who can provide a portfolio showing that they have been highly active in certain cultural activities such as Japanese handicrafts, art, martial arts, music, etc. For example, if a guy has given concerts playing a koto and a sanshin for many years and has it in his portfolio, give him extra points. If a guy spent five years after getting his karate black belt being a professional karate instructor and demonstrates this in a portfolio, give him a better visa.

        There, three different ways to estimate whether a foreigner will “preserve Japanese culture.” How many of these does the Japanese immigration system currently use? Zero.

        The only conclusion I can draw is that Japanese simply do not care about foreigners making an effort to preserve Japan’s culture.

      • The Disturbed One

        I disagree when you say that the Japanese don’t care about foreigners making an effort to preserve the Japanese culture.

        There are several positive stories of integration.

        The evaluation criteria which you outlined are good, but should be written in Immigration Law while ensuring that there are no loopholes which can be exploited.

        Have you written to the Immigration Bureau of Japan and asked them whether this is on their roadmap?

        I can’t speak or write even a word of Japanese.

        If I could have, I would have written to them.

      • Steve Jackman

        Integration and preserving the culture are not the same thing. Foreigners in Japan should strive to expand and broaden the Japanese culture, not just preserve it. Culture is not frozen in time, since it should change for the better and evolve with the times.

      • The Disturbed One

        Do you read the news from non-conventional sources?

        Do you know what has happened and is happening in some cities in Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK?

        I don’t see any “rapid” degradation in traditional festivals in the area I stay in.

        Darwin’s laws and the laws of economics apply. Some festivals and skills of tradition will fade out. Some will remain.

        My friends from India used to complain about cultural decay too, but now things are apparently looking up as they are working hard and finding ways to market their culture well.

        Japan, having such a rich cultural history, should do the same.

    • Charles

      Tell me, on that “points system,” how many points out of 70 is a PhD worth? How about a medical degree?

      How many points is speaking Japanese at a JLPT N1 level, the highest measurable level, worth? How many points is JLPT N2, business-level Japanese worth?

      Oh, wait, I already know the answers to all those things:
      – A PhD is worth 30 points
      – A medical degree is worth 20 points
      – JLPT N1 is worth 15 points
      – JLPT N2 is worth 0 points

      Are you a medical doctor with business-level Japanese, at JLPT N2? Congratulations–for all that, you just got 20 points! Now all that you need to do is find a way to get an extra 50 points! Piece of cake!

      • The Disturbed One

        I dont have a PhD.

        I dont have a medical degree.

        I dont have JLPT N1. Heck, I don’t even speak Japanese.

        However, I do have a graduate degree, and am working in a highly skilled job in this country with a pretty good salary.

        I got 75 points.

        Read the official website and figure it out mate.

      • Charles

        75 points, really? Please break down for us what those points were in.

      • The Disturbed One

        Work experience – 15 points
        Salary – 35 points
        Graduate Degree – 10 points
        Age – 15 points.

      • Charles

        Thank you for breaking it down.

        Based on what you told me, you make 9+ million yen per year (35 points) at age 29 or younger (15 points). You also managed to do all of this without speaking any Japanese. If all of what you wrote is true, this is absolutely amazing, and you should write a book about it.

        You claim to have a graduate degree, yet they only gave you 10 points, which is odd, because graduate degrees are worth 20 points.

        Even though you’re apparently an amazing 29-year-old playboy living large on 9 million yen per year, you still barely qualified–you got just 5 points over the threshold. Even with your amazing success at such as early age, you should understand, from your penthouse in downtown Tokyo, probably, that as someone who barely qualified for that visa himself, that there are plenty of “highly-skilled” foreign professionals who would not.

      • The Disturbed One

        Hi Charles – I tend to agree that the thresholds may need to be tweaked. I just hope that this happens sooner rather than later.

        Btw, only people with a master’s degree get 20 points.

      • Charles

        You wrote “graduate degree”–if your “graduate degree” is not a master’s degree, then what type of degree is it?

      • The Disturbed One

        A bachelor’s degree.

      • Charles

        That’s not a graduate degree. A graduate degree is a master’s degree, PhD, or professional degree such as MD or a law degree.

      • The Disturbed One

        Umm. I guess different countries count things differently.

      • Charles

        Really? What country did you complete this degree in that calls a bachelor’s degree a “graduate degree?”

        One with running water and flushing toilets, I hope.

      • Charles

        Really? What country did you complete this degree in that calls a bachelor’s degree a “graduate degree?”

        One with running water and flushing toilets, I hope.

      • The Disturbed One

        Things are getting heated up aren’t they mate?

        :-)

        Have a drink! Chill!

      • Charles

        I agree. Take a break from posting about Sharia patrols in Europe on multiple accounts, then go and have a drink.

      • Steve Jackman

        No, I don’t think they do, The Disrurbed One. A Bachelor’s degree is called an Undergraduate degree and a Master’s degree is called a Graduate degree. It surprises me that you don’t know something as basic as this, given your supposedly high income-level and the quite opinionated nature your comments. It’s a little hard to give credence to your posts based on this.

      • The Disturbed One

        Just to get things cleared up –

        Bachelor’s = Undergraduate degree.
        Master’s = Graduate degree
        PhD = PostGraduate degree.

      • Steve Jackman

        Not sure what games you’re trying to play here, but for the record, you have gone back and edited your earlier posts which clearly showed that you did not know what some of these degrees meant since you kept using them incorrectly. That’s what Charles and I were responding to. At least have the integrity and honesty to own up to your mistakes, instead of completely editing your earlier posts.

      • The Disturbed One

        For the record, the comment I edited and removed was “Umm. Different countries count things differently”.

        And yes, by posting the below, I believe I have achieved further clarity.

        Bachelor’s = Undergraduate degree.
        Master’s = Graduate degree
        PhD = PostGraduate degree.

        Cheers and Thanks.

      • Charles

        I know what game he’s trying to play. He has written two posts about “Sharia patrols”–ring a bell? Looks like some angry xenophobic European Japologist has a new screen name. Note the registration date: 1/7 of this year. Which was probably when his last screen name got banned. Report and move on. Too bad Japan Times only blocks accounts, not IP addresses.

      • Steve Jackman

        Yes, either that, or a Japanese poster who is against immigrants in Japan and is therefore engaging in fear mongering.

      • Steve Jackman

        Yes, either that, or a Japanese poster who is against immigrants in Japan and is therefore engaging in fear mongering.

      • Steve Jackman

        Not sure what games you’re trying to play here, but for the record, you have gone back and edited your earlier posts which clearly showed that you did not know what some of these degrees meant since you kept using them incorrectly. That’s what Charles and I were responding to. At least have the integrity and honesty to own up to your mistakes, instead of completely editing your earlier posts.

      • The Disturbed One

        I am surprised that you twist a clarification and use that to attack credibility of logical opinions.

        Tsk tsk tsk…

      • Steve Jackman

        Hey, The Disturbed One, I find your editing of earlier posts that clearly showed you did not know the difference between some of these degrees to be quite disturbing. Your so-called “clarification” was posted after Charles and I called you out on not knowing this, since you wrongly kept insisting that a Graduate degree was the same as a Bachelor’s degree.

      • Charles

        We were aware of that already. You weren’t.

      • The Disturbed One

        So?

      • Steve Jackman

        So, own up to the fact that you did not even know what the terms Graduate degree, Undergraduate degree, Master’s degree and Bachelor’s degree meant (this was obvious to Charles and I from your earlier posts, which you subsequently edited under the guise of a “clarification” to completely change the content of your original post). Get real!

      • Samie Carvalho

        I’m from a BRIC country, I’ve a PhD level graduation degree in a big
        japanese national university, I (use to) have more than 10 years of work
        experience in my field of study, I have business level japanese skills,
        besides I can speak fluently other 3 languages, I’ve been in Japan for
        more than 7 years paying taxes and respecting the “way of living” in
        Japan, but look how funny that, as a woman, and not “nikkei”, I couldn’t
        find a single place to give me a full time job with a sposored visa,
        (「女性だから」って言われる)and I’m not evene elegible to get a permanent visa
        according with MOFA’s standards…
        But for sure, the fact I’m a non nikkei woman has NOTHING to do with this…

      • http://nihonjon.com/ nihonjon

        I’m a business professional and like most business folk, I’m young and make more than English teachers. That’s all I needed for the Highly Skilled professional visa.

        – Only an undergrad degree.
        – I did get N1, what any sane individual looking to live in Japan should work towards.

        While I had over 70 points, you don’t even need a full 70 points to actually get this visa.

        Instead of negativity, think how you can provide value. Can’t provide value? Start studying or improving your skills like normal people in any other country would. Japan doesn’t make it any easier or any harder.

        tl;dr
        – Japan doesn’t need losers.
        – Japan doesn’t need anymore old people to support.

    • MasaF

      Only 3 years and no-Japanese can stay here permanently? Doesn’t that risk allowing dangerous non-Japanese in who will make Japan unsafe?

      • The Disturbed One

        Only people who manage to get the highly skilled visa and then stay here for 3 years can get the PR.

  • Ron Lane

    For one, the math seems off: if a 1% increase in spending for in-kind benefits raises TFR by 0.1%, then Japan would have to increase spending close to 4% to raise TFR from 1.42 to 1.8. That’s quite different than a 1.5% increase as stated in the article.

    Two, studies show that the TFR for women who have children is above 2.0 which implies that the real problem isn’t getting women to have more children but rather getting women married and encouraging those married couples to have children. So why do so many young adults chose to either remain single or if married, chose to not have children? The Japanese workplace may be the greatest disincentive to both marriage and childbirth as more young people aren’t encouraged to enter a soul-sapping system . . . while those who do enter recognize the near impossibility of working full-time and raising children at the same time.

    The likelihood of the workplace changing anytime soon so as to prevent demographic disaster isn’t good. Not when money’s involved and profits at stake.

    • The Disturbed One

      If the whole of Japan is working itself to death, then why are thousands of people seen going home from work between 5 PM and 7 PM?

      • Steve Jackman

        They are the non-regular workers on the way to their second jobs.

  • Guy Hubbard

    Japan is overcrowded anyway. It would be much nicer with a population of 90 million. Just increase the retirement age.

    • The Disturbed One

      I agree!!

      People should be able to live in Japan peacefully – like it is now.

      People from other countries come over here and marvel at how safe it is.

      Heck, even Prince Harry’s close friend got mugged in central London lol.

      A decline in population can be countered with more automation – and this is what Abe Sama (God bless him!) is doing.

      A decline in population just makes it easier to live in this country which already has a high population density.

      At the same time, highly selective immigration of highly skilled people can always be encouraged.

      There are thousands of people living in BRICS countries who could perhaps skill up, learn Japanese, understand how to fit in into Japanese culture, and come to settle here.

      • Samie Carvalho

        I’m from a BRIC country, I’ve a PhD level graduation degree in a big japanese national university, I (use to) have more than 10 years of work experience in my field of study, I have business level japanese skills, besides I can speak fluently other 3 languages, I’ve been in Japan for more than 7 years paying taxes and respecting the “way of living” in Japan, but look how funny that, as a woman, and not “nikkei”, I couldn’t find a single place to give me a full time job with a sposored visa, (「女性だから」って言われる)and I’m not evene elegible to get a permanent visa according with MOFA’s standards…

      • The Disturbed One

        Your qualifications and work experience will easily get you the highly skilled visa if you manage to get a job offer also.

        Which field did you do your PhD in?

        If you think Japan has not treated you well, have you considered taking your skills to another country, especially as you can speak three languages fluently?

        If ineligible to get the highly skilled visa, you could always apply for PR after completing 10 years.

      • Steve Jackman

        Cliches and propaganda is not reality, either here in Japan, or anywhere else for that matter.

    • Kevin

      As long as you can accept the lower standard of living that population brings. Basic economics – standard of living goes up with steady inflation and population growth and visa-versa.

    • Kevin

      As long as you can accept the lower standard of living that population brings. Basic economics – standard of living goes up with steady inflation and population growth and visa-versa.

  • PRADEEP CHATURVEDI

    JAPAN should ease VISA on arrival restrictions to Indians and allow them to work for some months to overcome the shortage of manpower. India has surplus workforce which can help JAPAN to at least temporarily overcome the shortfall. Nobody can help Japan as educated women will not go for kids as they are considered as nuisance by most of them

    • Charles

      Yes, let’s open up, but only to Indians.

      What was that Beatles song, again?

      All you need is Indians!
      dum-duh-duh-duh-dum
      All you need is Indians!
      dum-duh-duh-duh-dum
      All you need is Indians, Indians!
      Indians are all you need!

      By the way, what nationality are you? Vietnamese, right?

      • The Disturbed One

        LOL.

      • MasaF

        Great point. Indians aren’t as dangerous as other non-Japanese so they will not make Japan an unsafe country.
        LOL

      • The Disturbed One

        Reality mate. Reality.

        Have you read any news reports in local newspapers of Indians in Japan committing crimes?

        Nope. None whatsoever mate.

    • The Disturbed One

      Agree.

      Indians don’t riot in the streets asking for Sharia law to be implemented.

      Indians in Japan live peacefully without attempting to impose their religion or culture on others.

  • PRADEEP CHATURVEDI

    JAPAN should ease VISA on arrival restrictions to Indians and allow them to work for some months to overcome the shortage of manpower. India has surplus workforce which can help JAPAN to at least temporarily overcome the shortfall. Nobody can help Japan as educated women will not go for kids as they are considered as nuisance by most of them

  • 紬士・こだまカウンターヒル

    It was difficult to have a child because shortage income of family and very difficult to more than 3 million yen per year and school expenses was very expensive.
    Shortage of workers? Most Japanese company doesn’t want hire who age 30s and 40s and send tens of resumes, but failed all of them.

    • The Disturbed One

      Unless the underlying aim of the Government is to depopulate Japan and reduce the count of people to Australian levels, the way to improve the economy is –

      1. Improve disposable income

      This alone will improve the economy through increased spending.

      More people will get married.

      More married couples will have children once they feel that they can afford to have them.

      2. Improve child care facilities

      This will help mothers with young children have a chance to contribute productively to the economy.

      3. Better working conditions for women

      At least 1 to 1.5 years paid maternity leave like in the Nordic countries.

      4. Increase opportunities for families to have children

      See point 1.

      5. Make it easier for foreign companies to set up shop and employ people here

      I suggest that you and your friends and society members contact your local elected politician and put pressure on them in relation to this.

      • MasaF

        Cool. Just raise disposable income. Maybe Abe could pressure companies to increase pay or something. Or maybe just do that some other way. Very simple, wonder why it has not been thought of before?

      • The Disturbed One

        Perhaps salaries are not going up because there are still way more job seekers compared to open positions, in many fields?

      • Lorenzo Amato

        Actually, according to people I talked to, the problem now is that many prices are higher than few years ago, especially imported goods, and at the same time people spend less, for fear of the future (which is the first time in Japan). So many companies can’t afford raising salaries, ’cause that would imply charging more for what they sell, with a consequent further shrink in sales. So, inflation did not restart as Abe wanted, but otoh there’s a risk of a severe recession, because people can’t / don’t want to spend more, while the population gets older and older every passing year (i.e. more costs to cover, but less taxes to collect).

      • Steve Jackman

        “I suggest that you and your friends and society members contact your local elected politician and put pressure on them in relation to this.” Yes, perhaps we should all write to the elected politician in Saitama who recently compared foreign residents there to the number of dogs.

  • John Farrelly

    We are told that Climate Change; now unstoppable, will reduce populations and from my window here in a browning multi culti Ireland I see…. well floods and floods and floods. Japan is doing what we are all being told we must do and reduce human number. Roll on climate change if only to silence the poisonous Left.

  • Rebane

    > the population crisis […] will shatter the national goal embraced since Japan’s late 19th century modernization: to become a global economic powerhouse and a leading player on the world stage.

    150-year-old “national goal?” – a total anachronism. This is not what the current population crisis” is about.

  • ジャシンダ(Jashinda)

    As much as I agree with the immigration ideals, my main concern is domestic safety. I think Japan is doing good with how they’re watching and keeping eye on places like Europe and seeing how that goes. I would just bar people from known countries that have people who pop off frequently. And then bar those from said country who try to go to a different country to try to slip under the radar.

    But I never knew the severity of the birthrate and aging population issues. I hope they get resolved soon. ^^

    • Lorenzo Amato

      The problem is that with this low birthrate all Japanese will become less and less rich. The social system will not be sustainable anymore, while taxes will have to be raised again and again in order to save the basic services. Meanwhile other countries in Asia will become richer, and at some point skilled immigrants will stop coming to Japan, because they will receive better paid jobs from other countries. The fact that immigrants here are not treated well will become a big problem for Japan, in the long run.

      • Steve Jackman

        “The fact that immigrants here are not treated well will become a big problem for Japan, in the long run.” Japan may need immigrants, but I don’t think immigrants need Japan, given the hostility, racism, xenophobia and discrimination often faced by foreigners in Japan in almost all facets of life here.

  • Evolutionary1

    The Japanese are steadily going extinct, as are the Koreans and Westerners.

    Only Muslims, blacks and some others are reproducing.

    Natalism wins at the end of the day.

  • Anpanman

    Japan is too crowded now, why have it more crowded simply so the wealthy can have a higher stock value and more “power” on the world stage?

  • John

    If you are a foreigner (esp asian), then it is very difficult to grow within a Japanese company. You cannot become a manager or director. That’s the way the Japanese society is. I will not recommend any foreigner to take up PR in japan unless you are in business or has a japanese spouse.