Japan’s Low Birth Rate and The Psychopathic Paul Erlich

Posted: January 4, 2015 in Society and Culture

SOURCE: http://indianexpress.com/article/world/asia/a-baby-shortage/99/

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A baby shortage
japan birthrate, japan, child birth in japan
Japan is one of 61 nations not producing enough babies to replace their populations.
Written by Aleesha Matharu | January 4, 2015

With the world’s population hitting the above seven-billion mark, it seems as though the decades-old warning about the ‘Population Bomb’ could become true. In his landmark 1968 book by that name, Paul Ehrlich had warned that “we will breed ourselves into oblivion”.

But Japan today represents the exact opposite and is one of 61 nations not producing enough babies to replace their populations, according to the United Nations.

The Japanese now have one of the lowest fertility rates in the world, and at the same time, one of the highest longevity rates.

The dilemma

Swinging into 2015, new figures released by the Japanese government revealed a crisis: just slightly over one million babies were born in 2014 — making this tally the lowest figure on record. Since hitting a peak of 128 million in 2010, Japan’s overall population has dropped three years in a row. With Japan’s health ministry estimating that 12,69,000 people died in 2014, that means a natural population decline of 2,68,000. Forbes reports that by 2020, adult diapers will “outsell the infant kind”, and that by 2060, the number of Japanese would fall from 127 million today to about 87 million.

Aiming for 1.80

In 2014, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced the government’s long-term vision and strategy to curb the country’s decrease in population. The plan indicated a goal to raise the birthrate to around 1.80 per family (from 1.43 currently), mapping out a vision for Japan to be able to maintain its population at around 100 million even up to 2060.


Many Japanese youth have withdrawn from dating and are known to instead focus on online porn and games like Nintendo’s Love Plus where they can have an anime girlfriend. As a result, an estimated 1 million of the population are said to have become hikikomori, or shut-ins, with almost no human contact. There is now a government programme that sends female outreach counsellors known as “rental sisters” to coax hikikomori out of the house.

Marriage rates

The marriage rate has plummeted, and with it the birthrate, since out-of-wedlock births are rare. A total of 6,49,000 couples married in 2014, a drop of 12,000 from the previous year. There were also 2,22,000 divorces, data showed. At least that was down 9,000.


With fewer children to take care of elderly parents, there has been a rising incidence of what the Japanese call kodokushi, or “lonely deaths”.

Zombie housing

With the population shrinking so rapidly, reports have stated how vacant homes are an increasingly common sight. As of 2013, there were 8.2 million unoccupied homes in Japan, representing a record 13.5% of all residences. The government estimates that 20% of residential areas will become ghost towns by 2050.


To offset the negative economic impact of the declining population, one policy option is to allow more foreign workers to find employment in Japan. The Japan Revitalisation Strategy announced in June 2013 initiated a revision of the existing point-based preferential immigration system.

Other nations

A number of nations today, including Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Georgia, Armenia, Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Portugal and Puerto Rico now face long-term population decline.


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