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Japan takes alarm over low birth rate

Japan is losing population, and its Prime Minister fears it might no longer function as a society without more children being born.

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Yesterday the Prime Minister of Japan expressed serious alarm over the low birth rate in his country, the BBC reported.

Japan – lower birth rate, higher dependency ratio

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida called on his countrymen to address the decline in fertility or face social collapse. “Now or never,” the BBC quoted him as saying.

Japan, with a population of 125 million, saw fewer than 800,000 births in 2022 – down from more than two million in the 1970s.

Life expectancy has been increasing, to the point that 28 percent of the population is older than 65. This raises the dependency ratio of (persons younger than 15 or older than 64) : (persons between the ages of 15 and 64).

Japan is standing on the verge of whether we can continue to function as a society.… Focusing attention on policies regarding children and child-rearing is an issue that cannot wait and cannot be postponed.

Mr. Kishida proposes doubling the budget for child-related programs.

Population statistics and dynamics

According to World Population Review, Japan’s population peaked at 128.1 million in 2008 and has been declining since. The growth rate of population peaked at 1.31 percent in 1974. Population is declining at 0.47 percent per year, and WPR expects that decline to accelerate in years to come.

WPR blames the very low birth rate – down to 1.4 lifetime births per woman and declining. Replacement level in a fully developed society without civil war, contagion, etc., is 2.1. WPR also reports darkly that an excess proportion of Japan’s young people are committing suicide.

The Daily Skeptic reports that excess deaths contribute to population decline as well.

While I’m looking at some international comparisons, I can’t resist the temptation to include Japan. Not only does Japan have one of the highest vaccine rates in the world, and ubiquitous mask wearing, but it also currently has one of the highest Covid fatality rates in the world. It’s all very odd.

BBC correspondent Rupert Wingfield-Hayes wrote a scathing and contemptuous essay suggesting that Japan is paying the price for its ethnic prejudice. His remedy: let in all comers. Which would mean that immigrants would replace – totally – the original population.

If you want to see what happens to a country that rejects immigration as a solution to falling fertility, Japan is a good place to start.

He foresees a future for Japan that includes robot workers – and extensive re-wilding as the population continues to dwindle.

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

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