Population Challenges

     Although Japan is a technologically advanced country, with a successful economy and renowned for its work habits, there are many serious population challenges present.
     One of the most serious problems is that it is in the 5th stage of Demographic Transition, which means that the death rate is higher than the death rate (International Data Base, CIA World Factbook). The reasons for this problem is that while there was explosive growth before the Second World War, after, there was a very sudden decline in birth rates as having children was less encouraged -- it saved money, as the development load was smaller (Ogawa, Demographic Trends). Many births were stopped with abortions or contraceptives (Ogawa, Demographic Trends). Therefore, today, there is only 1 child born to every female, and the growth rate is now -0.2% per year, when it used to be 0.2% (International Data Base). Also, it is more serious than expected because the decline was predicted to start in 2007, but it started in 2005 (US Department of State). Right now, there are two more deaths than births in a thousand (International Data Base).
    Another bad factor to this problem is that Japanese tradition discourages immigration; therefore there are almost no immigrants in Japan, save 0.9% of the population to China and South Korea combined, and 0.6% to other nationalities (US Department of State). Also, singles are becoming more popular - many Japanese young adults do not wish to worry about married life (Ogawa, Demographic Trends). More women are now receiving better education and getting good paid jobs, which encourages to them to get higher and higher job statuses, which also discourages them from marrying (Ogawa, Demographic Trends). By 2025, it is possible that 87% of the population could be elderly (Ogawa, Demographic Trends). This is an astonishing amount of seniors, whereas the birth rate is the lowest in the world (CIA World Factbook). By 2015, the birthrate will be -0.4%; by 2030, it will be -0.8% (International Data Base).

    As well, because of this gradual under-population, there are increasing labor shortages in Japan's work force. Japan has a very large debt, as mentioned in the introduction, but a very small work force which will become even smaller (Ghosh, IB Times). Since 1997, the elderly population has been greater than the younger population - and there are very few adults working age who can take their place (Ghosh, IB Times). By 2030, the workforce could be cut by 18% (Ghosh, IB Times). As time goes on, there will be too many seniors because of Japan's world-famous life expectancy, and too little Japanese to support them (Ghosh, IB Times). As well, the care for these seniors will add to the national debt (Ghosh, IB Times).
    Another minor problem is that there seem to be more females than males as the population ages (International Data Base) - the female life expectancy is about 5 years more than the male life expectancy (CIA World Factbook). However, at younger ages, there seem to be equal numbers; in fact, in childhood there are more males than females, and the figures equalize during the working age period (International Data Base).