Since my last 3 posts were somewhat serious, I thought I would lighten things up with a random movie trailer for the Japanese remake of Sideways. I have heard about Japanese movies being remade for Hollywood, but never the other way around. Does anyone know how common this is in Japan?
Now just to warn you the trailer is entirely in Japanese (no subtitles), but if you have seen the original you can probably follow it.
In the first two parts this article, I have written as if Japan's demographic decline is a given, which of course it is not. Essentially, Japan has 3 potential options to solve this issue. The first is to do nothing and try to mange the decline as best as possible. The second is to allow mass migration to Japan. This would the easiest and fastest option (and the one I would personally recommend) but I don't think this is a likely option given the mood of the Japanese society. This leaves rapidly increasing the birthrate back to replacement level.
Since I think option 1 is the most likely outcome but option 3 is the most desirable (since I do not foresee mass immigration becoming a politically viable option anytime soon), I will give recommendations on what should be done now to deal with population decline and how to move towards increasing the birthrate.
The first thing that needs to be done in Japan is to increase the age at which retirement benefits start and move away from mandatory retirement. It makes absolutely no sense for workers in one of the longest lived and healthiest workforces in the world to be forced to retire at 60 or 65 whether they want to or not. This is not to say that people can't or shouldn't still retire, but just that there is no longer really a need to do so at 65. Read the rest of this entry »
The first problem with Japan's shrinking and aging population is the actual structure of the population. At the end of World War II, Japan (like the much of the rest of the world) experienced a baby boom. This meant that during the miracle years of the late 1950s and early 1960s many, many children were born. However, as I mentioned in the first part of this article, the fertility rate began to fall, permanently falling below replacement level in 1975.
In the short term, this posed no problem for Japan's economy. Those born during the miracle years entered the workforce during the 1970s and the bubble years of the 1980s. Thus, most of the Japanese baby boomers began working when things like lifetime employment actually meant something in Japan. Those who lost their jobs or failed to find jobs during the “lost decade” (really two now) were the younger workers born at the end of 1960s and into the 1970s.
At the time, this was viewed as a temporary measure; younger workers would enjoy lifetime employment once the economy picked back up again. But on the whole, this has not happened and during this time, the baby boomers have gotten older and older and closer and closer to retirement. Read the rest of this entry »
If I were to ask you what is the single biggest problem facing Japan today, what would you say? If you answered the current economic meltdown, Japan's ballooning public debt, the rise of China or the threat from North Korea, you are way off. While, these are certainly extremely important issues and concerns for Japan, they pale in comparison to the real crisis it is now facing: that of demography.
Now this may seem like an hyperbole to you at first, but I am going to show you why Japan's demographic structure – and specifically its aging and shrinking population – is by far the most important issue it now faces. I will demonstrate this by looking at a number of different issues including public debt, economic growth and international reputation. Finally, I will examine what, if anything, can be done about the current situation.
However, before I continue I think it would be useful to look at a few numbers to get an idea of the magnitude of the problem. According to the Japanese government's statistics bureau, Japan's population peaked in 2006 with 127,771,000 people. Since that time it has shrunk, with the UN estimating that by the end of next year Japan's population will have fallen to just under 127 million people. This represents a loss of over 700,000 people in just 4 years. Read the rest of this entry »
This Sunday I am going to be running a half-marathon here in Ottawa which I have been training for since the start of the year. It is going to be a huge event, with about 10,000 runners expected to compete. But, I bet there is not going to be anything like this at the finish line:
This video was taken at the finish line of the 2007 Tokyo Marathon. I really like Taiko drumming and I think it would be an amazing way to end any race. If I ever do another full marathon it will be this one.