As far as I've seen, it was only last year that many in Japan finally realized that their country's population was declining at a irreversible rate, and finally became agitated or distressed about it.
Well. 23 years too late, I'd say. They could have done something before 1990, before the epic burst of the epic real estate bubble that had grown thanks to the 1985 Plaza accord of forced appreciation of Japanese yen and to a lesser degree Deutsche Mark to help the then-struggling US dollar (which had appreciated significantly in the first half of 1980s).
They would have had the money to spend to reverse the trend that had already been in place. It was back when the ex-Governor of Tokyo and the Sony's co-founder and chairman wrote a book "Japan That Can Say No". Instead of wasting breath on looking down on the US and the rest of the world and bragging about its own achievement, Japan could have taken a good look at itself and think about where it would want to go from there.
Well, after 23 years, taking a hard look at facts and thinking deep are still alien ideas for most Japanese.
From Bloomberg News (12/31/2012):
Japan’s Population Falls by Record in 2012 as Births Decrease
Japan’s population last year declined by 212,000, the biggest drop on record, according to an estimate by the nation’s health ministry.
That’s the largest reduction since the ministry started recording the data in 1947 and a sixth straight year of declines. The number of births fell by 18,000 to a record low of 1.03 million last year, the ministry said.
(UPDATE 1/3/2013) A chart by the national government in fiscal 2010, by the very agency that Ms. Masako Mori is now in charge of. (See my next post about her and the policy of forcing retailers to carry Fukushima produce.)