• Kyodo

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The world’s population will grow to well over 9 billion by 2050, but Japan’s is set to drop by a staggering 16 million in the same period, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) predicted in its annual report released Wednesday.

While the average population growth rate for the entire world between 2005 and 2010 will be 1.1 percent, Japan will see a rise of just 0.1 percent, moving it closer to decline, according to the State of the World Population 2006.

Japan is currently the 10th most populous nation — which is similar to several of its Asian neighbors, such as China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan and Bangladesh. But its negative population trend matches those in the West, particularly European nations.

The report says aging populations in Europe and North America in particular, combined with a shortage of nurses and doctors, are driving up demand for health workers and causing an influx of skilled female migrants from poorer countries.

It also says the drift of women from Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and increasingly Africa, is likely to include the industrialized or industrializing nations of Asia in the future because those nations will see rising demand for health and domestic workers as well.

Governments should cooperate on issues related to the increasing migration of women — a total of some 95 million worldwide — to “ensure a win-win situation for all,” UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid said.

“This report calls on governments and individuals to recognize and value the contributions of migrant women, and promote and respect their human rights,” Obaid said at the launch of the report, titled A Passage to Hope.

She said that people need to look beyond the idealism of a globalized world and its corresponding free-trade flows.

“The realities and needs of women migrants highlight the shortcomings and the dark side of globalization, and the persistence of poverty, gender inequality and exploitation,” Obaid said.

The report, which calls for urgent action from heads of state, was released to coincide with a high-powered dialogue on International Migration and Development to be held at U.N. headquarters in New York later this month.

“It is only recently that the international community has begun to grasp just how much migrant women contribute to the economy and social well-being of populations living in both source and receiving countries,” the report says.

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