Japan is getting older while its population is shrinking, the statistics confirmed. As The New York Times reports, this year, the island country has 512,000 fewer people in comparison with 2018.
Japan’s country’s welfare ministry has release the fresh data on population, and the figures are alarming – the Asian state losing its population year by year. The gap between births and deaths has put Japan in a demographic squeeze, and that crisis is deepening.
According to the welfare ministry, births — which are expected to drop below 900,000 this year — are at their lowest figure since 1874, when the population was about 70 per cent smaller than its current 124 million.
While births decrease, the total number of deaths is increasing. This year, the figure is expected to reach almost 1.4 million, the highest level since the end of World War II, a rise driven by Japan’s increasingly elderly population.
The trend is dangerous for the economy and the security of its social safety net. As the number of births goes down, there are fewer young people entering its workforce. But Japan’s situation is not unique.
Asian countries are getting older
Other countries in the Asian region have an even worse situation. The champion title goes to South Korea, while globally — from China to the United States — states also face declining birthrates.
In Japan, marriage is on the decline, too. The number of marriages dropped by 3000 year-on-year to 583,000, part of a steep decline during the last decade.
Across Japan, whole villages are vanishing as young people choose not to have children or move to urban areas in search of better employment opportunities. As births continue to drop, Japan has tried to promote robots as a supplement for its shrinking workforce. But what kind of robot is able to be a parent?
Government is doing best to push up its fertility rate — the average number of births per woman — from its current level of around 1.4 to a target of 1.8, still short of the 2.1 considered necessary to hold the population steady.
But even reducing obstacles that might discourage people who want to become parents isn’t working in a proper way. Probably, it is the sign of our times, to be childfree is more comfortable.