Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Japan

Percentage of Elderly In Japan Continues to Grow as Number of Children Drops 283

Posted by samzenpus
from the older-every-day dept.
First time accepted submitter Cornelie Roe (3627609) writes in with some bad news about the population of Japan. "The number of children in Japan has fallen to a new low, while the amount of people over 65 has reached a record high as the population ages and shrinks, the government said. There were an estimated 16.33 million children aged under 15 as of 1 April, down 160,000 from a year earlier, the internal affairs and communications ministry said on Sunday. It was the 33rd straight annual decline and the lowest level since records began in 1950. Children accounted for 12.8% of the population, the ministry said. By contrast, the ratio of people aged 65 or older was at a record high, making up 25.6% of the population. Jiji Press said that, of countries with a population of at least 40 million, Japan had the lowest ratio of children to the total population – compared with 19.5% for the United States and 16.4% for China. Last month, the government said the number of people in the world's third largest economy dropped by 0.17% to 127,298,000 as of 1 October 2013. This includes long-staying foreigners. The proportion of people aged 65 or over is forecast to reach nearly 40% in 2060, the government has warned."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Percentage of Elderly In Japan Continues to Grow as Number of Children Drops

Comments Filter:
  • Jiji press? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    How appropriate. :P

    • Re:Jiji press? (Score:5, Informative)

      by EuclideanSilence (1968630) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @01:59PM (#46973735)

      ...for those who haven't seen 10000 hours of anime (shame on you), JIJI is japanese slang for a man old enough to be a grandfather. It's like saying "old fart".

      • Re:Jiji press? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by lgw (121541) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @02:26PM (#46973873) Journal

        Where I grew up, "old enough to be a grandfather" meant "30". Now my friends are having their first kids around 40.

        Something pretty basic is broken with work-family balance IMO. It's great that we left "one parent works, the other does family" behind, but "both parents work, and neither does family" is even worse. As automation increases, and unemployment with it, you'd think we could move to shorter work weeks and "both parents work, and have plenty of time for family too"!

        It's far easier medically to have kids in your 20s, and far easier to cope with their teenage years in your 30s than your 50s! Society needs to be built on more than just career, and I think we're getting it completely backwards with the ongoing division between workaholics and government-dependents.

        • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

          It's great that we left "one parent works, the other does family" behind

          Why? That seemed like a pretty good set-up. One person devoted to parenting and bringing up children well, with time to prepare good food, read and help with homework etc. Maybe return to work when the children get older, but taking a decade or more out just to look after them seems to work well.

          I agree on your other point though. Advancement at work tends to suffer if someone has to say no to overtime or seems like they want to be out the door at 5 to pick up the kids.

  • by ZorinLynx (31751) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @10:37AM (#46972463) Homepage

    This may sound crass, but this is a problem that'll solve itself in a couple of decades, after which you'll have a much lower population on the island, which given the lack of space (especially in large cities) is probably a good thing.

    There are way too many people on the planet in general. Breeding more is NOT the answer. Do the best we can to take care of our elders, and when they're gone, let's be more responsible about population growth going forward.

    • by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Sunday May 11, 2014 @10:40AM (#46972493) Homepage

      I would imagine that Japan's cities will stay as crowded as ever for a long time. As the population in the countryside thins out and becomes greyer, what young people there are will flock to the cities for better opportunities. So, you'll have densely populated cities and an increasingly empty rest of the country.

      Look at Russia where the population has fallen significantly, but Moscow just keeps growing. If you visit the hopeless backwaters, all the young people there dream of leaving their collapsing communities for the big city.

      • by Ardyvee (2447206)

        It seems something that the government could try to solve by trying to invest in these less-developed areas and turning them into attractive areas for industry and businesses, in turns making people want to live in the less populated areas. I have always found it odd that there is little push towards homogenizing the population and instead everyone just seems to head towards the one or two large cities, slowly getting overcrowded.

        • by afgam28 (48611) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @12:51PM (#46973335)

          Having lived in both Japan and the US, I've noticed that people in Japan tend to think "living in a small town would be inconvenient because I wouldn't be able to get to a train" whereas people in the US tend to think "living in a big city would be inconvenient because I wouldn't be able to drive my car".

          So the Japanese tend to be drawn towards large cities (about 60% live in one of the 3 biggest metro areas - Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya) and Americans tend to self-organize into a fairly uniformly sparse suburban environment.

          It's interesting how people can't seem to see beyond their society's local maxima, but anyway this leads to vastly different ideas of what it means to be "overpopulated".

          When I lived in Japan I didn't find it to be overpopulated at all, even in the middle of Tokyo. The high population density isn't a problem that needs solving - it's a defining characteristic that makes the city great, and has attracted 35 million people to live there. There are plenty of rural backwaters north of Tokyo in Tohoku but not many people want to live there.

          So what for? If a society prefers large cities, why not let them self-organize into a two or three big cities? Which is what Japan has pretty much already done.

          • by iONiUM (530420) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @01:41PM (#46973635) Homepage Journal
            I've never lived in Japan, but I've visited there many times over the last decade, and I disagree that it isn't "overcrowded." I never felt like I could be alone in Tokyo (I.e. >20m from another human). In addition, have you even used the Tokyo Metro during rush hour? Shinjuku station? They really do use polls on people, and you're packed in like a goddamm sardine. That's not life, that's not living. That's being a meat popsicle. No thanks.
            • by luis_a_espinal (1810296) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @04:41PM (#46974567) Homepage

              I've never lived in Japan, but I've visited there many times over the last decade, and I disagree that it isn't "overcrowded." I never felt like I could be alone in Tokyo (I.e. >20m from another human). In addition, have you even used the Tokyo Metro during rush hour? Shinjuku station?

              Well, he lived there, so most likely his answer would be in the affirmative.

              They really do use polls on people, and you're packed in like a goddamm sardine. That's not life, that's not living. That's being a meat popsicle. No thanks.

              That's a subjective position. It's your right to have it of course, but it is still subjective. I've been in Tokyo and Yokohama, and at first, the sight of so many people during rush hour is quite shocking. But people adapt. Outside of the monster commute (be it packed like a sardine or stuck on the expressway for 1+ hour... one way as it is the norm in many American cities), people adapt and seek/get what they want.

              The trade-off of the sardine commute is in living in a vibrant, elegant and financially rich (and relatively crime free) megapolis with all the benefits that come with it. I never really had a need of a car, not even for grocery shopping. There was a pharmacy on the first floor of the building where I was living, and a grocery store on the first floor of the building next door... and so on and so on...

              ... and the nice thing about the Japanese way of life is that most stores, even the smallest ones, have a delivery service. You buy your stuff, in bulk if you one, pay $10 (1000-something yen IIRC), and voila they'll deliver it to your apartment. Every major train/subway station/nexus has a mall so shopping (and buying delivery) is also conveniently located.) Try to do that anywhere in the US.

              Here in the US we trade for space, which will always feel much better than the sardine commute, but then again, we have to drive just to get toilet paper. Few cities have trains for commute so a commute is not only long, but also physically consuming. When you get used to it, you can go zzz while standing in a Tokyo sardine commute. Try doing that when driving.

              And there there is the lack of crime. And the level of education that you encounter, customer service, etc, etc, etc. We don't have that here, and yet, we will call this life, but their way of life is not "life"? WTF?

              At the end of the day, we are dealing with subjective perceptions here. And you are entitled to it, so long as you acknowledge how subjective you are.

            • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

              Privacy is at a premium in Tokyo, which is why there are so many businesses offering it. Internet/manga cafes with private booths, love hotels, karaoke rooms, small bars etc.

              It's not to everyone's tastes. Personally I love it and don't find it crowded exactly. Busy, but in exchange for that you get to live somewhere with a very vibrant and varied cultural life. When you need open space it's only a train ride away, and outside of peak times the trains are not that packed. In fact even during peak times it is

          • by Ardyvee (2447206)

            FWIW, I lived in Caracas, and it definitely felt overcrowded. Now I live in what I consider a town in Portugal (for some reason local population insists in calling it a city). I'm not sure which one I like more if I control for the lack of security in Caracas. I have no idea how USA/Japan cities compare besides what I've seen on TV (which we know isn't that reliable).

            My biggest complain is the insistence on trying to live in a gigantic city (it tends to be hard to solve commuting issues) when the population

        • by amiga3D (567632)

          It's hard to fight the inevitable. I've seen a lot of "investment" in dying communities where they try to turn them around and start growth again. It may work sometimes but I've yet to see it.

          • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

            There is a small but not insignificant movement of companies out of major cities in Japan to more rural areas. It is usually internet based companies, or those that otherwise would benefit from more space (for warehousing or small factories) and don't really need to be right in the city. Often they start there because that's where the founder lives, but then move out and offer employees lower housing costs and free transport into the city when they want it.

          • by rtb61 (674572)

            Something needs to occur to 'energise' them generate the need and desire for growth. In the Japan case there is no where to go, nothing new to achieve, just continuing on. They need the surge of change to drive adventure and a reach for the future. Likely they need to start looking at an EU style union, to promote change and balanced growth. The problem for them, especially considering the immigration rules which is an important part, is whom to partner with. The only logical regional partner at this stage

        • by JanneM (7445)

          It's easy to say we want to make the rural areas as attractive as the big cities. Notably, I've yet to see any credible ideas for actually achieving it.

          Big cities are amazing. Because of network effects and the efficiencies of small distances and dense accumulation of resources, competing directly is extremely difficult. It's like deciding you want to make a new, fledging social network as attractive to users as the current big ones. The only thing you could feasibly do in both cases is to push it as a nich

      • Read this book [amazon.com] (Planet of Slums) on how this is a world wide phenomena that is becoming increasingly intractable.

        We're doomed.

        • by khallow (566160)
          It's more tractable than it was in 1950. There are a lot more wealth in those areas and a lot more opportunity for those people than there was in the past. And it's worth noting that the developed world has much better slums than the third world does with less of their population in those slums.
      • I would imagine that Japan's cities will stay as crowded as ever for a long time. As the population in the countryside thins out and becomes greyer, what young people there are will flock to the cities for better opportunities. So, you'll have densely populated cities and an increasingly empty rest of the country.

        This. People who claim Japan overcrowded are only looking at numbers without the appropriate context. Japan is no small nation (just slightly smaller than California), and there is a lot, a lot of empty, rural spaces. Overcrowding might be a problem in the cities, but then again, Japanese cities are very well organized and clean so that overcrowding is not really an issue (I know, I've been there.)

        But the country as a whole is not overcrowded as it has the capacity to feed and clothe its population my mod

        • by Gramie2 (411713) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @07:05PM (#46975411)

          Japan is nowhere near able to feed itself. It produced under 40% of its caloric needs [bloomberg.com] in 2011. It does produce all the rice it needs (thanks to ridiculously subsidized and protected farmers), but is the world's largest importer of corn.

          I would also be surprised if it had any significant textile/clothing industry; everything now comes from other countries in Asia.

        • by Grishnakh (216268)

          Japan may be slightly smaller than California, but much of its land is highly mountainous and not arable. California is so productive because not only does it have large cities, it also has an enormous amount of agriculture, because it's mostly flat and has great weather for growing crops. Japan does not.

    • This may sound crass, but this is a problem that'll solve itself in a couple of decades

      It's not crass, it's just a biological fact. That's what pisses me off about people attacking social security and medicare, that problem will solve itself over time. Expenses will climb to a peak and then level off as the population declines. By 2035 that big, fat swath of baby boomers will start running into the meat grinder of old age [gwu.edu].

      Focus on cost control and the actuarial tables will take care of the rest.

      • And after you total a car, it won't crash anymore.
        If nothing unexpected happens, social security might be solvent in 2060, if it still existed. There's just that pesky fault that it can't exist in its current form part the 2030s. We know how many people are in their 40s today, so we know how many people will be in their 60s twenty years from now. From that, it is simple arithmetic to see that we don't have the money to pay those people as promised.

        "Attacking social security"? Are you high? When you're abo

      • by Ol Olsoc (1175323)

        This may sound crass, but this is a problem that'll solve itself in a couple of decades

        It's not crass, it's just a biological fact. That's what pisses me off about people attacking social security and medicare, that problem will solve itself over time.

        There are Cayman Island bank accounts that can better use that money. You know, nothing like the invisible hand of the free market bitch slapping all those worthless old people.

      • by khallow (566160)

        That's what pisses me off about people attacking social security and medicare, that problem will solve itself over time.

        With substantial benefits cuts.

        Expenses will climb to a peak and then level off as the population declines.

        In the case of Medicare, it'll plateau at a level that can't be supported by the entirety of federal government funding. One could take all government revenue in around 2040 and still not cover present-day Medicare promises made for that year.

        Focus on cost control and the actuarial tables will take care of the rest.

        Again, substantial benefits cuts.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        It will put an impossible burden on people in the mean time. There won't be enough working age people to pay for the retirement of older people. Even if you were willing to cut off the state pension and state healthy insurance people would still want to support their parents and grandparents individually, forcing them into poverty too. That in turn lowers their productivity, and prevents them from saving for their retirements etc.

        Chances are society would collapse and Japan would become a poor country befor

    • by bluegutang (2814641) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @11:47AM (#46972923)

      On the contrary, in a couple decades, things will be much worse in Japan. The number of retirees will rise, and the number of younger working people will decline. The ratio of retired to working people will rise, and there won't be anyone to pay for the medical care of the old people. That's a recipe for immense suffering, both personal and economic.

      Japan currently averages about 1.4 kids per family. A stable, sustainable rate would be about 2.1 kids. (Not 2.0 because a small number will die before reaching reproductive age.) Japan's rate is much too low for a healthy society. Northern European countries have rates of 1.6-2.0 (plus some immigration of young people), while the US rate is 2.1 (plus some immigration). Those are healthy rates. Japan, for cultural reasons, is not even willing to supplement its 1.4 rate via immigration.

      You are correct that the planet does not need any more human beings. But the solution is to decrease birth rates in Africa and South Asia (where they are as high as 7 kids per family in some countries), not to further decrease birth rates in Western countries, where they are already at or below sustainable levels.

      • On the contrary, in a couple decades, things will be much worse in Japan. The number of retirees will rise, and the number of younger working people will decline. The ratio of retired to working people will rise, and there won't be anyone to pay for the medical care of the old people. That's a recipe for immense suffering, both personal and economic.

        This is unnecessarily alarmist. In the early 1900s (until about 1940) the Japanese birth rate was approximately 4 times what it is now. Who do you think paid to feed all those kids or for their medical care, etc.? Yeah, conditions were worse, but the point is that all of those resources that previously went from working adults directly into raising kids are no longer necessary.

        As long as older people are relatively healthy, it's not like having to care for 2 parents (shared among their children) for 10

        • t's not like having to care for 2 parents (shared among their children) for 10 years more

          Note that if you have 1.4 kids per family on average, five families will have seven kids, and ten parents to support. It's really easy to support the elderly at ten workers per elderly with a 50% chance that any elderly will live long enough to collect Social Security (or the Japanese equivalent). Which was about what we had when SSA was invented in the '30s.

          Well, now it's heading toward a 50% chance that any particu

      • Japan, for cultural reasons, is not even willing to supplement its 1.4 rate via immigration.

        I agree with most of your post, but disagree with this one. Japan allows immigration of skilled labor. The difference between them and elsewhere is they *only* allow the skilled laborer, and not the rest of the family (unless, of course, the rest of the family is able to meet the immigration criteria individually). This filters out anyone who could possibly be a burden on their social systems. A side effect of this is that the few who do immigrate tend to assimilate into Japanese culture, but that is al

      • You are wrong. People reproducing in places like Africa and South Asia use a tiny fraction of the resources a Westerner uses. In terms of the ecology, one American family consumes as many resources and energy as a village in east Africa. So, as far as the biosphere is concerned, the millions of poor africans and asians are one thing, but they're not nearly as much of a problem as Americans and Europeans.
    • The first question that anyone interested in economics, enviornment... anything really.... should ask is, "What is the optimal populaiton for the country or the planet?" To accomplish anything of value, you at least have to know if the optimal population is higher or lower than the current population.

      If our goal is the best life for human beings, the optimal number is clearly less than "standing room only" for population density. Based on resource depletion, current pollution, and the massive extinction e

    • This may sound crass, but this is a problem that'll solve itself in a couple of decades, after which you'll have a much lower population on the island, which given the lack of space (especially in large cities) is probably a good thing.

      Ireland has one of the lowest population densities in the world. This did not stop one of the world's worst per capita property bubbles forming and bursting, and now re-inflate itself in the capital.

      The principal determiner of housing afford-ability is bank policy, and after

    • by Ol Olsoc (1175323)

      This may sound crass, but this is a problem that'll solve itself in a couple of decades, after which you'll have a much lower population on the island, which given the lack of space (especially in large cities) is probably a good thing.

      Then exactly how in the hell are we going to have enough young people to send off to fight in wars and die?

    • by Alomex (148003)

      This may sound crass, but this is a problem that'll solve itself in a couple of decades,

      Erh, if couples are having less than two children on the average, as indeed they are, the problem won't "solve itself in a couple of decades".

      This trend will simply carry on for many decades with the population steadily dwindling. This is not necessarily a bad thing, since not long ago Japan had less than 60m people, but the skewed ratio ain't going away.

  • by dugancent (2616577) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @10:45AM (#46972529)

    Economic policies based on an ever growing population are failed policies.

    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by benjfowler (239527)

      The pindicks who make our economic policies still haven't gotten the memo.

    • Unfortunately nobody has ever come up with an economic model that is stable without growth in both population and economic activity. I expect that Japan's accelerated work on advanced robotics may be an effort to create a new model that replaces those people with robots and allows renewed economic growth with a shrinking but ever wealthier population - at least until SkyNet! :P

    • That could be the epitaph for the Western welfare state. Europe is heading in the same direction as Japan.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      No, it's not about lack of a growing population, it's about massive population decline. The current population is about 125m, and is set to fall to about 90m by 2050. People in Japan live a long time, and it puts a burden on current tax payers. If there are too few people paying tax either the older ones can't be looked after properly, or the tax rate gets ridiculously high.

      It has nothing to do with growth, and everything to do with people living for decades after they become too old to be economically prod

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This is not a problem at all. This is an indicator that Japan is moving even further into the Post-Industrial stage of their country's development. They are effectively controling their population growth, the rest of the world would do well to follow their example.

  • Big problems ahead (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hsmith (818216) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @10:54AM (#46972603)
    The aging population relies on the tax base of the young to sustain any old age benefit program.

    What happens when you don't have enough young people to sustain the program the old people depend on?

    Will the young revolt? Will the old vote heavier taxes on the young so they can live their lifestyle?

    There are massive socioeconomic problems that will not only impact Japan but America and other western countries.

    The young will be piggy banks for so long before getting tired of it.
    • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @11:11AM (#46972697)

      What happens when you don't have enough young people to sustain the program the old people depend on?

      Improve productivity through the use of automation, robotics, and AI, while simultaneously reducing resource consumption through the use of advanced composite materials and intelligent sensors. Progress happens. It is silly to extrapolate demography while assuming everything else will stay the same.

      • by Kjella (173770)

        Robots still suck horribly bad at providing personal service and that's what care for the elderly and healthcare tends to be. They already have problems when they're just dealing with squishy inputs through a standardized process to produce a fixed output which is why we still have people making burgers and fries much less trying to help an elderly dress, shower or go the bathroom with any degree of success, humanity and dignity. With a rapidly increasing elderly:workforce ratio the level of personal servic

        • Robots still suck horribly bad at providing personal service and that's what care for the elderly and healthcare tends to be.

          Steady progress is being made in this field. Society isn't going to suddenly become gray tomorrow. It is going to happen over decades. Also, robots don't have to specifically be good at elder care. If they are good at mowing lawns, picking tomatoes, or unloading trucks, that still frees up human labor for other tasks, such as elder care.

    • by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @11:13AM (#46972711)

      The "young" and the "old" aren't political classes, especially since one rather quickly becomes the other. In any case it's the middle aged who pay by far the most taxes and drive the engine of consumerism through property purchases, vehicle purchases, etc, not to mention taxation applied on company profits and the like. The economy is complicated.

      However Japan is an interesting case. The rise of the "herbivores", a phenomenon whereby young men are opting out of not just society but long term relationships on a reported scale I frankly have difficulty crediting, is a symptom of a society at war with itself. This isn't a deliberate attempt to control or reduce the population but rather a culture where traditional norms were thrown out en masse before and during world war 2, to be replaced by a fervid desire to excel on the national level right up until the early 90s, and now that's been done Japanese men are finding that an angry boss at work and an angry woman at home isn't what they want out of life.

      It's unknown territory, socially, and it remains to be seen if the west will follow suit.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        The low birth rate is a complex subject but boils down to economics. Children are expensive. Women want careers and are forced to choose between having one and having children, because taking maternity leave or not doing overtime still holds them back. Men now have better entertainment options, as odd as that sounds, with the internet and various clubs, so prefer to have lots of money to spend on themselves instead of a wife and family.

        The way to solve it is to make make having children a lot cheaper. Tax c

        • by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @07:32PM (#46975547)

          The low birth rate is a complex subject but boils down to economics. Children are expensive.

          The herbivore lifestyle, from what I've learned of it (I'm renting a room out to a Japanese language student), is more than just about not having children. Men are eschewing long term relationships entirely, not to mention simply not taking part in the pressurised Japanese society of yesteryear. They don't have high paying jobs but are rather staying afloat and going cycling in the countryside.

          Men now have better entertainment options, as odd as that sounds, with the internet and various clubs, so prefer to have lots of money to spend on themselves instead of a wife and family

          I'm not sure where you're getting the idea that men are spending all their money on entertainment, if anything whiling away the hours is far cheaper these days than ever before. Plus I mean you have to ask what's going on when computer games are more attractive than the local womenfolk. Remember this is the country that invented the boyfriend shaped pillow.

          The way to solve it is to make make having children a lot cheaper.

          Again, money isn't really the issue here as far as I can tell. It's a profound rejection of the demand to be the best, to be a wallet, to be a dumb cog in the machine without being recognised and appreciated for it, and if the numbers returned by surveys are to be believed the Japanese economy is going to be in really serious trouble without them.

    • by stoploss (2842505)

      What happens when you don't have enough young people to sustain the program the old people depend on?

      Default, at least. A few years ago I decided to investigate why everyone was freaking out over Greece's 100% debt-to-GDP ratio but not the US' same level. I found that Japan has a *200%* debt-to-GDP ratio, yet eswentially everyone is silent about it. How does that work?

      Well, government debt is treated like a savings program there. People can buy government debt at their post office, etc. So, all these old people have been saving their money for years and years by buying these savings bonds. This hasn't been

      • by garyebickford (222422) <gar37bic@gmail.DALIcom minus painter> on Sunday May 11, 2014 @11:55AM (#46972967)

        Well, actually they've been freaking out about the Japanese debt problem for a long time - 20 years or so. Most economists that I've read now believe that it would have been better to 'bite the bullet' back then and let the banks fail, then pick up the pieces. Instead they've been slowly bleeding to death for 20 years and dragging down the Japanese economy. See Iceland vs. UK and several other Euro countries. Iceland told the banks (and Europe) to F*-off - no "too big to fail" BS. The country went through some hard times for a few years, now they're doing well. But other countries all over Europe are now in the bleeding to death for 20 years phase. And, IMHO the US is going that way as well but we're doing it by inflationary theft.

        I read recently that Japan's 'safe' Postal Savings system had been exposed - it had been systematically and secretly looted by successive governments for the last 20 years, to cover up the financial problems and prop up the banks. It was originally a true savings system, but no longer. The money's not actually there any more. It's now financially more like the US Social Security system, where they're paying the present oldsters with money paid in by youngsters.

        • Your analysis of the situation in Europe is flawed. The UK is doing badly, but other countries in the EU are well beyond pre-crisis levels now. Particularly France and Germany, and of course Germany not only bailed out its own banks but also a few other countries. Bail-outs worked well in some places, but were not a universal fix or suitable for everyone. Iceland probably made the right call. The UK did too, but then screwed it up by making everyone except the banks pay for it afterwards.

      • I know some economists like Krugman disingenuously state that a government in control of its own currency printing presses can never default, but that's a lie. If these people bought the bonds in good faith and the government decides to pay them off with hyperinflated, worthless currency that they printed, then that's theft (at least morally speaking).

        No, it's not theft. It's just the Super Chicken rule: they knew the job was dangerous when they took it.

        Bond purchasers know that currencies may be debased, and that governments may even just default; happens all the time. But they gambled that the likelihood of getting a return on their investment was greater than of losing it, and that it was a better option than putting the money elsewhere. But there's no rock solid guarantee that absolutely cannot be broken.

        Next you'll say that discharging debts in bank

        • by stoploss (2842505)

          Bond purchasers know that currencies may be debased, and that governments may even just default; happens all the time. But they gambled that the likelihood of getting a return on their investment was greater than of losing it, and that it was a better option than putting the money elsewhere. But there's no rock solid guarantee that absolutely cannot be broken.

          I'm sure the American public would love to hear the truth you just expressed. I agree with you that the full faith and credit of the US government is *not* inviolable, but they may not be so happy to hear that their savings bonds and Social Security Trust Fund (cf. the SDR bonds that constitute almost the entire the Trust Fund) are risky investments that are subject to being debased and paid out with worthless scrip.

          But, hey, you know: they knew what they were getting into when they decided to play the mark

          • by NapalmV (1934294)

            [...] they may not be so happy to hear that their savings bonds and Social Security Trust Fund (cf. the SDR bonds that constitute almost the entire the Trust Fund) are risky investments that are subject to being debased and paid out with worthless scrip.

            I think they already know. They're just trying to beat inflation without taking extra risks. Government savings bonds are about as safe as the money they're denominated in, while their interest rate helps with reducing the effect of inflation.

            • by stoploss (2842505)

              Government savings bonds are about as safe as the money they're denominated in, while their interest rate helps with reducing the effect of inflation.

              Weellll, it gets amusing when TIPS get sold at a negative interest rate [247wallst.com]. Yes, the story is nuanced (there is a floor in that original principal will be returned if the yield would result in an overall loss), but it's still shocking to see US sovereign debt instrument with a negative interest rate.

              BTW, the 5-year fixed rate yield on TIPS [treasury.gov] is still negative.

              This is primarily the result of the market's flight to perceived stability after the 2008 crash. Supply & demand.

    • Easy. You force the old to pay for their retirements by making them buy private pensions. You force them to sell their houses to pay for aged care, and soak them through taxes.

      The boomer generation hogs all the wealth and political power; they will be forced to pay for their own mess, because there is no alternative.

      • by NapalmV (1934294)

        You force the old to pay for their retirements by making them buy private pensions. You force them to sell their houses to pay for aged care, and soak them through taxes.

        This looks like a modern form of the ancient art of lapidation practiced against the older, weaker or ill members of the tribe. Look in a mirror, do you see the neanderthal there?

    • Just a little caveat as it is a big caveat.

      It is not the young people the young people that support the old people.

      It is young people with 'good' jobs that support the old people.

      If we look throughout the world right now, young people aren't exactly basking in good high paying jobs that would be net payers into a tax system.

      So yes, an aging Japanese population is a problem.
      It might actually be a worse problem to have a large population of elderly people AND a large amount of unemployed or underemployed youn

    • by hey! (33014)

      The young will be piggy banks for so long before getting tired of it.

      Depends.

      Let's imagine for a moment a world where 50% of what a young person makes goes to support the non-working elderly. Sounds horrible, right? But lets imagine in that world in which those young people are 4x as productive as they are now. Would they have a legitimate beef supporting an older generation that bequeathed them a world whose technology, infrastructure and educational institutions allow them to take home twice as much pay as they did?

      This is not just sci-fi conjecture; in many ways this r

  • Our new mother overlords!

  • by iONiUM (530420) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @01:38PM (#46973613) Homepage Journal
    I've been to Japan many times, and this problem could have been partially mitigated with immigration. But the Japanese are racist at best, xenophobic at worst. So, this is what they get. I mean you can't even get citizenship if you marry a Japanese, what the fuck is that.
    • Has anyone considered that (1) Japan is already overpopulated, and (2) mass immigration would destroy the Japanese culture, or at least alter it beyond all recognition.

      You appear to be judging Japan by American standards. America does not set the standards for the world, nor are other countries bound in any way to follow American laws. In fact, they can do whatever they damn well please. Stop insisting that other cultures follow your idea of "normal".

    • by nojayuk (567177)

      Plenty of countries don't offer automatic citizenship to people who marry one of their citizens. The US doesn't, for example. They don't offer green cards or right of residence automatically either. Friends of mine who got married in the UK tried to move to the US where the wife was a natural-born citizen but her British husband was refused leave to stay. They lived in the UK for several years and finally after many appeals her husband managed to get a green card and they moved to the US. As far as I know h

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo@worldCHEETAH3.net minus cat> on Sunday May 11, 2014 @05:58PM (#46975061) Homepage

      This is a common misconception. FWIW you can't get citizenship of many countries, including the UK, just by marrying. In fact you can't even get a spouse visa for the UK just by marrying, you have to pass English languages tests and lots of other bullshit. I know, I have been trying to get my fiancée in for years.

      The Japanese culture is rather unique. The language is tricky, especially writing. The only other people who have a bit of a head start with the written language are the Chinese, and Japan isn't exactly on the best terms with them. For everyone else it's a huge barrier, but also rather essential to do many jobs. How can a nurse who doesn't read/write Japanese pass the nursing exam, or read the label on medication, or the doctor's hand-written notes?

      More over it takes time to assimilate. At first you feel like an outsider, but having lived in Japan for a while I'd say I'm not pretty well integrated. It's hard to explain but now I think and act that way I find foreigners stick out like a sore thumb as well. They often talk too loudly, or just position themselves awkwardly or ask un-subtle questions. Once you settle in though somehow Japanese people can just tell (and now so can I), and treat you without prejudice.

      • by Phil Urich (841393) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @06:19PM (#46975181) Journal

        More over it takes time to assimilate. At first you feel like an outsider, but having lived in Japan for a while I'd say I'm not pretty well integrated. It's hard to explain but now I think and act that way I find foreigners stick out like a sore thumb as well. They often talk too loudly, or just position themselves awkwardly or ask un-subtle questions. Once you settle in though somehow Japanese people can just tell (and now so can I), and treat you without prejudice.

        But . . . isn't that the entire problem, that they're prejudiced against anyone who doesn't talk and act exactly "correctly"? I think pretty much by definition people aren't prejudiced against people who are like themselves. Once you adopt every social convention and mannerism they no longer act so xenophobic towards you? That's not something to boast about, and you aren't really convincing anyone that the Japanese are tolerant of differences if it takes skillful, concerted effort in concealing and obliterating those differences before they're tolerant of you.

        Personally I find the idea of everyone having to adopt specific thoughts and actions lest they be judged to be horrifying (and the same reason I often feel quite uncomfortable in small towns in North America). And one of the things I will definitely judge a culture for is its intolerance of differences (see, again, small town North America).

  • Two, One, or None (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Scot Seese (137975) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @01:40PM (#46973633)

    - Children. Title solves global population problems. Two children to replace two parents, with the odd accident or illness to either parents or children statistically causing slow population shrink.

    Japanese families tend to be fairly careful with money, and as a result - as used to be the case with many WW2 generation elderly Americans - are sitting on piles of assets. What will occur is simply the balloon "inflate / deflate" effect. You work your entire life to amass savings and assets, you become elderly and require medical care or living assistance, and the balloon begins to deflate.

    So, good news, unemployed Japanese youth - Head off to city college and pick up that 2 year nursing assistant certification or complete a 4 year degree in anything medically relevant, and their deflating balloon will inflate yours.

    (Joke) you can just fast forward about 100 years, when the entire Western world will just be a giant medical service economy with only 3 types of entities: Elderly, people providing medical or living assistance to elderly, and semi sentient robots doing everything else.

    As the Dalai Lama once said, paraphrased, "People in their youth spend their health pursuing money only to become elderly and spend their money pursuing health."

    • Japan needs to figure this problem out without increasing the population so the whole planet can benefit from their example! Our economics are built around continual growth as if there are no limits to anything.

      Global warming is caused by overpopulation.

      Two children DO NOT simply replace two parents! Significant overlap means huge resource and economic impacts. FOUR live in total for around 50 years (a long time) and grandchildren makes that 6 people for a short period, falling back down to 4 again when th

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      The global population problem is largely solved. Did you know that the fertility rate in Bangladesh is 2.5 now? Education is in place and it works.

      Of course the population is still rising. Those children born in the 60s when the fertility rate was 7.5 all had a few kids in the 70s and 80s and so forth, and are all living longer than their parents. The number of children in the world is levelling off at about 2bn though, although as a percentage that is actually down about 10 points compared to the 60s.

      The w

  • So elderly Japanese folks are intelligent enough not to make babies. And here my 90 year old grandma was eager to get knocked up again.
  • More than just a solution for overpopulation.

"I prefer rogues to imbeciles, because they sometimes take a rest." -- Alexandre Dumas (fils)

Working...