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

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

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  • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @12:59PM (#46973389)

    Those gains don't accrue to everyone; they only accrue to the owners of capital.

    This is only true if you have tunnel vision. In the developed countries of North America and Europe, most economic gains in the last few decades have gone to the owners of capital. But if you look at the whole world, that is not true at all. The big gains have been at the bottom. Nearly a billion people have been lifted out of extreme poverty. Per capita GDP has gone up eight-fold in China, with 300 million Chinese entering the middle class.

  • by AthanasiusKircher ( 1333179 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @01:40PM (#46973629)

    If you read my post, you will see that I disagree about countries that print their own currency. It's tantamount to a default if you spool up the presses and pay it off with worthless hyperinflated currency.

    It won't be "worthless" or "hyperinflated" if the debt is paid off in that currency.

    Hyperinflation is generally a phenomenon which occurs as part of a feedback loop -- country A owes money in country B's currency, for example. Country A runs the presses to pay the debt in currency B this month. To do so, it increases the monetary base of currency A; it then exchanges money for currency B. Those people who buy currency A to give out the B in exchange then spread the currency A money back into the economy, where inflation begins.

    Since prices are inflated and the monetary base in use has enlarged, the exchange rate between A and B changes, so A now has less worth in B's denomination. Next month or quarter or whatever, when A has to come up with money in currency B, it now has to print the presses even more, because the exchange rate is no longer as favorable. That results in more money flowing into the economy, more inflation, etc. Each payment thus requires more printing of the presses than the previous month, and the currency is devalued.

    Repeat cycle over a period of months or years, and country B never pays off debt, and its currency is completely wrecked by hyperinflation.

    Now -- if a country has sovereign debt denominated in its own currency, then the government is the only source of the currency. Thus, the government already effectively "created" that money by issuing the bond in the first place. Some other person or country or whatever holds that debt has already said that it will accept payment in currency "created" by that government.

    So, if country A now just decides tomorrow to run the presses and pay off ALL the debt, it can do so. Country A is guaranteed to be able to pay off ALL of its debt simply by an act authorizing payment of X dollars or yen or whatever. There is no possibility of the inflationary spiral above where it could require many multiples of X dollars or yen or whatever simply to pay off the debt, because the denomination already is ONLY X and X ONLY. The value of the debt is set.

    It is possible that some inflation will ensue after the debt is paid, depending on exactly how this is done, and what the people who get paid this "money" do with it. (I put "money" in quotation marks, because all of these transactions mostly happen virtually on computers between major banks and such, with no real currency transactions happening in actual physical money.) But, in reality, foreign owners of debt in currency A will probably act in ways to actively discourage inflation in currency A as long as they hold some debt in that currency... otherwise, the value of their investment will decrease. So, anyone who holds this debt has an interest in keeping currency A afloat and avoiding hyperinflation -- rather than if the debt is denominated in currency B, in which case all that matters is getting the value into currency B.

    But the point is that there is no need for the inflationary spiral to occur, because the money never has to go through the exchange process (and thereby doesn't necessarily change hands beyond the original holders of the debt).

    Now -- how investors in that country's government could react going forward could have serious economic consequences, depending on how it is handled. But the money originally flowing to those who own the debt will be paid in currency with its current full value, not "worthless hyperinflated currency." If you don't understand that currency actually originates through government production, and thus production of government debt effectively "creates" money already, I'd suggest you go back and read a macroeconomics textbook.

    One can argue about how crazy governments have to be to cause banks and investors and so forth t

  • 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".

  • 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 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.

The road to ruin is always in good repair, and the travellers pay the expense of it. -- Josh Billings