Japan’s Internal Ministry published on its website a report that shows that the country’s population has continued to shrink for the third year in a row. The proportion of those 65 years old and up has also risen to a new record, highlighting the increasing problem of an aging population in the world’s third largest economy.
As of October 1 last year, Japan’s population has decreased by .17% to 127.3 million. What’s alarming is that it has one of the lowest birthrates in the world. A quarter of the country’s total population is made up of people 65 years old and above, while those up to 14 years old is now just 12.9% of the population. One of the effects of this is that Japan’s health and social security spending has increased to the point that it affects their ever-growing debt, the biggest among the industrialized nations. Another effect is that the labor force is also shrinking as its working-age population, or those between the ages of 15 and 64 years old, fell to below 80 million for the first time in 32 years.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga emphasized that this problem is “getting more serious”, underscoring the “remarkable” scale of the falling population. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration believes that one of the immediate solutions would be to increase the participation of women in the labor force, helped along by better child-care provisions and creating a better working environment for them. Mizuho Securities Co.’s Chief Market Economist Yasunari Ueno said earlier this month that Japan should look at the examples of the US and Australia who have shown that welcoming people from other countries helps strengthen their countries’ economy and helps society grow as well due to their different ways of thinking. Japan has also been looking at loosening several restrictions on immigration, as well as improving the conditions of foreigners working and living in the country.
[ via Bloomberg ]