Japan’s ageing population has been an on-going problem for decades. The number of elderly in the world’s third economy continues to rise while birthrate continues to decline. While the government scramble to come up with programs to alleviate this, short of telling married couples to get pregnant immediately, the effects caused by the shrinking population is already being felt in certain aspects.
As it is, the effects are already felt in rural areas where most of the elderly live while the young ones have trooped to the major cities. Government programs range from the establishment of more child-care facilities and elderly home care centers up to relaxing immigration policies. Some regulations on gender equality in the workplace are also being pushed to encourage more women to go back to work and help revive the economy. In a report by a government-set panel to study Japan’s population problem, reports say that the country needs to maintain at least 100 million people in its population for the next 50 years if it is to be stable. This is the first time the government has set an actual numeric target to its population, showing how critical the issue has become. At the right the population is going, it may fall to 87 million by 2060, with almost half of the number aged 65 years and older. The panel also said that a fertility rate of 2.07 by 2030 would be enough to reach the target, that is, if it is maintained.
Akio Mimura, head of the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry will submit a proposal to address current problems centering on the ageing population. Recommendations include raising the retirement age to 70 and increasing government expenditures on childbirth and childcare benefits by double to encourage more couples to get pregnant. However, the rate with which these programs will take effect is still not fast enough and only liberalization on immigration regulations may be able to support Japan. But until Japan opens itself to the idea of a heterogeneous society in the future, its population will continue to slow down.
[via The Diplomat]