One of Japan's biggest challenges this year — and likely for many more — has been tackling the labor shortage caused by the declining birthrate and aging society.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has set this as a top priority, with hits and missed opportunities over the course of the year in confronting these pernicious trends by working on improving gender equality.

That demographic pressures are connected to significant economic loss is evidenced by findings like those published by Teikoku Databank, that across Japan, there were 206 bankruptcies due to labor shortages as of October 2023 — the highest number ever recorded in a year.