Regarding Shinji Fukukawa’s Feb. 13 article, “How does Japan start to cope with fewer births, longer lives?“: The notion that Japan would face a decline in population is nothing new. I learned it in Japanese elementary school back in the 1980s. The politicians use these key words in their manifestos and speech, but I honestly believe that all these words have ended up as mere rhetoric, since no real action has been taken so far.
I am reminded of the situation faced by mankind at the end of the 18th century and pointed out by British economist and demographer Thomas Malthus. His theory of population stated that if human population growth outpaced increases in food production, there would be dire food shortages resulting in famines and disease. Technological breakthroughs in increased food production, coupled with higher living standards that favored lower birthrates, pre-empted Malthus’ prediction.
The challenge of an aging population is not insurmountable if concerted efforts by the people and their governments are made. If the Japanese government cannot be relied upon, people themselves should adopt a bottom-up approach by creating public awareness and forcing the top to listen to their demands.
Fukukawa’s article mentioned measures that should be taken by the government. To that, I would add the need for efforts by the public. There are many possible ways: web pages, discussion forums, campaigns. Let Japan show other Western countries that population decline is not something that will endanger its future prosperity and happiness.
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