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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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  • Jiji press? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 11, 2014 @10:36AM (#46972457)

    How appropriate. :P

  • 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 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 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.

  • by garyebickford ( 222422 ) <gar37bic@@@gmail...com> 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.

  • 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 @01:38PM (#46973613) 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.
  • by iONiUM ( 530420 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @01:41PM (#46973635) 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 AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) * <mojo@world3.nBLUEet minus berry> on Sunday May 11, 2014 @05:58PM (#46975061) Homepage Journal

    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 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 khchung ( 462899 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @12:19AM (#46976703) Journal

    "ou 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."

    You may know alot about Japan but your ignorance of the USA is showing here. What you describe is possible in many parts of the USA.

    Our family hardly ever shops anymore, we just buy it all online and have it delivered. Groceries too. The only place we ever go out to is farmer's markets, because a) they don't deliver, and b) they're often more of an experience than just a shopping trip.

    You are showing your ignorance here. Of course Japan also have online stores, but that's another thing entirely.

    What the GP said was to be able to *physically* go to a store, *hand pick* what you want to pick (i.e. you can pick and choose, e.g., the fruits, one by one), and the pay at the counter THEN have the store deliver what you picked to your home.

    Living in the US you might think that is stupid, why would you take the trouble to go (drive) to the mall and then not carry the stuff back home? The difference is, in Japan (and also applies to many Asian metropolis), as the GP mentioned, there are malls *everywhere*. Next to metro stations, around the corner, right beneath your home, etc.

    So during the normal course of a work day, you would probably pass malls/shops on your way to work, during lunch break, and on your way home. Then it became natural for you to scan the shops and probably, once in a while, notice something you want to buy, but you are on your way to work/lunch break/dine with friends/etc and obviously *not driving*, so you don't want to carry the stuff with you around. THAT's where the delivery comes in to play. You pick, you pay, and they deliver while you go on your merry way, just 3 minutes spent.

    That convenience of practically going through shopping malls along the way of everywhere you go is what GP meant. You are literally 10 minutes away from everything you need/want to buy, almost all the time, and you never need to "take time" to buy anything at all.

    And no, Americans living in suburbs where they have to drive 10 minutes to buy toilet paper, and do a "shopping trip" to Walmart once a week just to stock up on groceries won't be able to imagine what it is like, the convenience of being able to buy a fresh apple (just one), on the way home, every day, by just stopping for 30 seconds at the grocery that you pass by daily anyway.

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