Japan's Future: None?

Steven Mosher
By Joseph A. D'Agostino
PRI Weekly Briefing
1 April 2005
Vol. 7 / No. 12
Reproduced with Permission

Now that Terri Schiavo has been murdered, we can turn our attention to the murder of an entire nation. The Japanese people are committing genocide against themselves in what may be the leading example of the success of modern narcissism, feminism, and population control, three inseparable phenomena. Efforts by Japanese authorities to increase the birthrate have had no success. Not only does Japan have an extremely low birthrate combined with a long average lifespan, but her people's opposition to immigration means that this country has no way of perpetuating herself. Unless current trends alter dramatically, the ancient and proud nation of Japan will crumble into ashes during this century.

Japan's fertility rate is 1.3 children per woman, not the lowest in the world but close to it, and far below the 2.1 needed for replacement. Even the rosy assumptions of the United Nations Population Division's (UNPD) medium variant projections of Japan's future estimate a shrinking and rapidly aging population. Using the UNPD's more realistic low variant (and historically, the low variant has been more accurate) projections, Japan's population will fall from 128 million this year to 97 million in 2050. The proportion of people over 65 years old will go from 20% to 41% of the total population. The proportion over 80 will go from 4.8% to 17.6%, thus more than tripling.

Unlike many other wealthy countries with low fertility rates such as the United States and European nations, Japan has not allowed any large-scale immigration. Her people are thought to be dead-set against the idea. They have good reason, since Japan is not a nation of immigrants like America and couldn't possibly assimilate a large number of foreigners in the small amount of time available. But, then, who is going to work in Japan's economy in the future? Who will pay the taxes to support all those aged? In fact, who will populate the country? The questions for Japan are the same as for many other nations that have succumbed to anti-family lifestyles and the contraceptive mentality, but Japan's exceptionally warm embrace of this mentality in conjunction with her dislike of immigration makes it more urgent for her than for perhaps any other nation on Earth.

Maybe Japan will have to alter its policy on immigration. Only 1.5% of her population is foreign, and many of those are non-citizens despite being descendents of Koreans who settled in Japan generations ago. A Japanese government report issued March 29 asked the Japanese cabinet to consider the importation of unskilled foreign workers to meet the looming dearth of labor. Isao Negishi, deputy director of the Justice Ministry's immigration policy planning office, said that Japan's population has been dropping since 1995. Could Japan's culture survive the importation of huge numbers of immigrants?

Some urge Japan to push more women into the workforce. When studies are done on countries' economies or on their treatment of women, female labor force participation rates are consider key. The higher women's participation, the better, in the view of international organizations, corporations, and governments worldwide. Yet this is what puts so much strain on families and discourages women from having children. Japan's female labor force participation rate isn't high enough for some people.

The International Herald Tribune reported March 22 on a study of Asian economies by MasterCard: "'Research in economic history is very conclusive on the role of women in economic growth and development,' says Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, an economic adviser to MasterCard. 'The more extensive women's participation at all areas of economic activities, the higher the probability for stronger economic growth.' That, Hedrick-Wong says, means 'societies and economies that consistently fail to fully incorporate women's ability and talent in businesses and the workplace will suffer the consequences.'"

The article in that highly prestigious newspaper went on to say of Japan, "That nation's reluctance to increase female participation and let more women into the executive suite exacerbates its biggest long-term challenge: a declining birthrate. . . . The trend points to a crisis for a highly indebted nation of 126 million that has yet to figure out how to fund the national pension system down the road. Yet Japan has been slow to realize that for many women, delaying childbirth is a form of rebellion against societal expectations to have children and become housewives. Even in 2005, having children is a career-ending decision for millions of bright, ambitious and well-educated Japanese. Until this limitation is corrected, Japan's birth rate will drop and economic growth will lag."

Of course, it's women being so concerned about their careers rather than raising their children that has done so much to put Japan and other nations on the path to extinction. The world's lowest fertility rates are to be found in Western Europe, where women are more "liberated" than anywhere else. Those people who recommend more career women as the way to increase fertility are like those who say a more relaxed attitude toward sex, sex education, and contraception availability are the solutions to teenage pregnancy, abortion, and sexually transmitted diseases, even though those problems have been exploding ever since America adopted a more relaxed attitude toward sex, sex education, and widespread contraception availability for youth.

Paying Japanese women to have more children isn't working any better there than it has anywhere else. The town of Yamatsuri in northern Japan announced last month a plan to give 1 million yen ($10,000) to every female resident who has a third child. Other towns, such as Nishiki, have already been offering cash bonuses to couples who have more than one child. The birthrate continues to decline.

There is no reason to believe that will not continue. An astonishing 70% of single Japanese women told a poll conducted by Yomiuri newspaper last month that they did not want to marry.

In an article headlined, "A Baby Bust Empties Out Japan's Schools," the Washington Post reported March 3, "More than 2,000 elementary, junior high and high schools nationwide have been forced to close over the past decade. The number of elementary and junior high students fell from 13.42 million in 1994 to 10.86 million last year. . . . The lavish department stores of Tokyo have begun eliminating their rooftop playgrounds, replacing them with cafes and picnic areas for adults and the elderly. Over the past decade, 90 theme parks designed for children have closed in Japan; in the same period, Disney opened a popular sea-themed amusement park just outside Tokyo that targets adults more than children and allows the sale of alcohol." Even Disney is giving up on marketing to Japanese kids.

Euthanasia may be influential people's preferred solution to the aging population problem. In the long term, euthanasia can do nothing to save suicidal nations, but it can temporally rescue pension and health care systems in danger of going bankrupt under the weight of the growing numbers of elderly. They cost less when dead. If a country with a history of the Christian belief in the sanctity of life can dehydrate and starve to death a disabled woman with a significant chance of partial recovery if rehabilitated, and who signed no living will, why can't pagan Japan start doing something similar with the old a decade from now? After all, no medical treatment can make them young again.

On March 26, a female Japanese doctor was found guilty of killing a comatose 58-year-old patient with a significant chance of recovery, even though she had neither his permission nor the permission of his family, according to the English language version of Japan's Asahi Shimbun newspaper. How seriously is Japan taking this case? Her jail sentence was suspended by the judge and, for now at least, she continues to practice medicine.