Thursday, January 3, 2013

(UPDATED) Bloomberg: Japan's Population Drops by Record 212,000 Last Year as Births Decrease

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.)


netudiant said...

Japan is simply leading the way yet again, much as it did with the real estate boom, the financial crisis and the perpetual zero interest rate policy which freezes out the young from any prospects for affording a family.
Germany and Europe are not far behind, nor is the US, it is simply that more liberal immigration rules hide the fertility bust among the natives.
We'll probably eventually discover that the problem arose out of something unexpected, like TV or mandatory vaccinations or phtalates in the milk bottles, but the collapse in fertility is pretty endemic in the entire industrialized world, not just Japan.

VyseLegendaire said...

It's called debt deflation on the back of resource exploitation bell curve.

Anonymous said...

When you add the low birthrate together with a rapidly aging population ready to retire and a broad spectrum national disaster waiting to be paid for things begin to look grim. I don't know that Japan is culturally ready to import enough foreign workers to take up the slack.

According to this article The decline in birthrate in many countries is tied to women's greater equity in the work place. Bigger salaries and work opportunities translate into less dependance on traditional family structures.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

Anon above, Japanese companies already import a lot of foreign workers from China, SE Asia, in the name of "trainees", because the government pays incentives and the intermediaries get fat profit. Much like subcontracting pyramid scheme. This, while many young and not so young Japanese can't find jobs.

These days, many women have no choice but work, to make ends meet for the family. Positions which used to be permanent are now temporary, thanks to so-called "structural" reform by LDP's Koizumi.

Anonymous said...

I live in Japan and have two beautiful kids, but I can tell you we are punished by the government for having them, no tax breaks (some small housing allowance) and lots of penalties because of the complicated tax system. I cannot find full time work so have many part time jobs but for this you are punished, anyway, taxes keep going up and no incentive for anyone to have kids. Throw in all the cultural aspects of promoting same sex relationships, depression, loneliness and suicide and no wonder no one has kids. I work all the time and make just enough to scrape by, whew. Had not had kids life would have been easier but much lonelier too. Now of course Abe can be seen only as the most desperate, depraved, ridiculous moron imaginable, and 62 percent of Japanese support him! How sad it all is.

Anonymous said...

Given how convoluted Japanese politicians' minds are, I imagine they will propose making the workplace less equal for women, to encourage them to stay home and pump out babies...

The fundamental flaw remains the same: young people may want to have children, but refuse to demand of their government and companies a better environment (laws, policies, incentives, etc). Even the threat of nuclear holocaust was not enough to purge sho ga nai complacency. Now with the LDP fraternity back in power, we return to the days of even less innovative thought...

Anonymous said...

Japan was/is woefully overpopulated. Unfortunately most of that overhang is aging fast.
Less population should be good, more houses and more land, less energy imports, less food imports. It is bad for the hospitals, but good for those employed in the aged sectors.
Japan is over the "Growth is good paradigm"-well if it did but know it. Growth isnt coming back. We are shrinking. How we manage that shrinkage is key.
High inflation or hyperinflation wil lact to cull the old and infirm. Hospitals will be unable to cope or afford it. I dont think it will take 30 years for the pop to fall to 90 million. In fact, the sooner the better.
The government should look at this with a positive spin. Open up the countryside and till the land with an army of young farmers. Instead the fools are allowing big business to fill the void and turn small farms into 'efficient' large farms, and farmers into paupers, where all the produce gets shipped to some large supermarket or factories for convenience food bento boxes for people co-opted into thinking they need to move to the cities in order to get a job andare thus too 'busy' to grow or cook and too tired, economically disadvantaged and disheartened to procreate. And on it goes.
Japans population will continue to fall 1 million per year. Homes sizes get smaller and smaller but will peak in 2015. After this there will be cheap property coming back onto the market, first in undesireable areas then later spreading everywhere. Noone will buy in a falling market, property values will sink along with the population falls. In 30 years time property will be cheap enough to afford again. Your children, if you have any, will gather the rewards and the cycle will be off to the races again be it on a smaller scale.
The old have proved to be the most wasteful and self indulgent generation (thanks largely to 50 years of chronic LDP mismanagement). Well, the child is father of the man, so watch out old folk. The age of benelovence is over-this just as the LDP take the reigns again. Thank the lucky stars the bomb will go off in their hands and the cabinet of geriatrics will get a load of the publics fury NEXT election.

Anonymous said...

Japans population will continue to fall 1 million per year. Homes sizes get smaller and smaller but will peak in 2015.

Meant to say housing UNITS will peak in 2015, thanks largely to smaller and smaller family sizes-divorce, no kids couples, suicides, old living alone etc

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

>Japan was/is woefully overpopulated.

That's not necessarily true. It all depends whether the population is sustainable. Immediately after Tokugawa era ended and the new Meiji government was installed, emigration to foreign countries were strongly encouraged by the government, as national policy, to reduce the number of working-age people in Japan. There were not enough jobs for the population of 35 million at that time. This continued until after the World War II.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, my "was/is" was referring to pop peak 128.7m and today. Not historically. I'dsay about 80-90 mill is about "right"...but I expect it undershoot that figure.

Payroll Outsourcing Services said...

Just think about the future of the children that where they are born under the country that is overload population with the economy crisis.

Anonymous said...

How about more support for rearing kids? Like free kindergartens with longer hours so that the ladies can work, if so they wish/need?

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

Beppe, for that kind of support, the government will say it is too broke to pay.

Anonymous said...

right, LDP prefers to waste money on even more public works concrete rather than trying to reverse a demographic trend that is too fast not to have devastating effects. It did not work for the last 20+ years but this time maybe it will be different (sarcasm).

Maybe an all out war with China will address the population problem and also require a fair bit of reconstruction work. *This* might work.

Unknown said...

well graphed. Go japan, hahaha I've heard your trying to conquer china again?

25 black napkins

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