Japan stopped having babies. And they stopped getting married. And someone (lots of people) thought this was a good idea. It turns out, surprisingly, not to have been.
So the marriage rate has plummeted, and the birthrate as well. In 2005, 60 percent of women and 72 percent of men under 30 had never been married.
Now, the country has begun a white-knuckle ride in which it will shed about one-third of its population — 40 million people — by 2060, experts predict. In 30 years, 39% of Japan’s population will be 65 or older.
If the United States experienced a similar population contraction, it would be like losing every single inhabitant of California, New York, Texas and Florida — more than 100 million people.
Though demographers have long anticipated the transformation Japan is now facing, the country only now seems to be sobering up to the epic metamorphosis at hand.
Police and firefighters are grappling with the safety hazards of a growing number of vacant buildings. Transportation authorities are discussing which roads and bus lines are worth maintaining and cutting those they can no longer justify. Aging small-business owners and farmers are having trouble finding successors to take over their enterprises. Each year, the nation is shuttering 500 schools.
“Now, in every area — land planning, urban planning, economic planning — every branch of government is trying to do what they can,” said Reiko Hayashi, a researcher at the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research.
Last fall, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe convened a panel of Cabinet ministers and experts and vowed that his administration would “bring a halt to the dwindling birthrate and aging population and maintain a population of 100 million people even 50 years from now.”
But barring a baby boom or a radical liberalization of Japan’s restrictive immigration policies, many experts say Abe’s goal is hopelessly out of reach. Although the government’s target fertility goal of 1.8 children per woman would still be below the replacement rate, even that isn’t realistic, Hayashi believes.
“This is a wish,” she said. “Our fertility measures were launched very late.”
It’s a weird irony in that secularized socialism requires a high fertility rate so that younger generations can support older generations. But it seems that everywhere socialism is tried, the birth rate plummets.
I would suspect that you’re about to see euthanasia of the elderly and sick on a grand scale in Japan.
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