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Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Does Japan give us an insight into our future or is it an anomaly?

Japan’s population fell by nearly one million - the first decline since records began in the 1920s.

That still leaves 127 million Japanese but it raises questions that we in Europe, China and the US should be pondering.

If you believe the UN forecasts then Japan’s population will shrink to 83 million by 2100. Over a third will 65+.

Some unfortunate Japanese minister has the responsibility of yanking the birthrate up from 1.4 to a target of 1.8 (that is still below a replace level). Most commentators reckon that there is no chance that is going to happen.

Where Japan is a tad different to many parts of the world is that it has virtually no immigration.  I think Europe would be delighted to send a few of those banging on its door for entry.

Another oddity about Japan is that only 2% of births take place out of wedlock. Since women are marrying later and later it means that having multiple children is increasingly unlikely.

Japan shares one of the factors affecting most countries and that is urbanisation. Greater Tokyo, continues to grow and is now home to 28% of the population; the nation’s nine major urban areas account for 54% of Japanese. The rural areas (like in China and to a lesser degree in Europe and the US) are emptying out and becoming hyper-old.

My take is that Japan is not a good model to take. For the reasons I have explained and also the nature of the economy and culture make it more different than alike to the issues faced by the rest of the globe. Dick Stroud

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