Japan’s Secret Demographic Weapon
NEW YORK – As the annual World Bank/International Monetary Fund meetings get underway in Tokyo, Japanese leaders must confront an unfolding demographic disaster. Japan’s National Institute of Population and Social Security Research recently forecast that by 2060, the country will have lost nearly one-third of its 2010 population of 128 million, and just half of this smaller population will be between 15 and 65 years old – the most productive age group in any economy.
These are the kinds of numbers usually produced by wars and epidemics, and they imply both a dramatic drop in the number of young people able to provide for their elders and a much greater debt burden for a country that is already carrying one of the world’s heaviest.
To solve this problem, Japan’s political leaders have three options: find some way to raise the country’s birthrate dramatically, open a long-insular society to a wave of immigrants, or finally unveil the country’s secret weapon – the energy, talents, and ingenuity of Japanese women.
We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.
To continue reading, subscribe now.
Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.
Already have an account or want to create one? Log in