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Japan’s history of rapid growth, bubble economy, followed by economic slowdown and deflation will invariably spread to other nations with aging populations. History, however, rarely repeats itself exactly. By the end of this century, the population of the Earth will likely peak at 10 billion. Expanding middle classes in emerging economies cannot all achieve an American lifestyle. Energy consumption per capita alone would outstrip global supply. How can our resource-limited planet cope with global rising materialist expectations?

From the start, the Japanese already knew unlimited growth was unsustainable. Their island nation lacks natural resources. Even so, Japan became the most successful, modernized and advanced economy. Now it is at the forefront of solving advanced social problems, most notably population aging. Other countries around the world soon to experience the same are looking to Japan for solutions. “People are finally noticing what Japanese have already known — we are all islanders,” says Morinosuke Kawaguchi, a futurologist and author of the book “Megatrends 2019-2028.”

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