Japan reaches a new low in births and a fresh high in deaths

Japan reaches a new low in births and a fresh high in deaths

Sawako Utsumi and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The government of Japan continues to focus on other nations rather than addressing real issues at home. Thus, the new low in the number of yearly births is a constant theme in Japan without any real policies to tackle the known crisis. 

Hence, in 2021, the yearly death toll reached a high of 1,439,809 compared with a new low of only 811,604 births. Yet, bizarrely, the current Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, is focused on doubling the military expenditure. Despite the real issue of the mountain of debt in Japan and other social ills, it seems that political elites are a million miles away.

Japan isn’t alone with such a negative birth rate of 1.36. Indeed, some nations are facing an even more daunting task. For example, in 2021, the worst nations for low birth rates (information from Statista)include Taiwan (1.08), South Korea (1.09), Singapore (1.15), Puerto Rico (1.23), Bosnia and Herzegovina (1.35), Romania (1.38), Greece (1.39), Poland (1.39), Portugal (1.42), Croatia (1.44), Slovakia (1.45), Serbia (1.47), and Italy (1.47). However, unlike Hungary, for example, Japan isn’t addressing the low birth rate to any serious degree. 

In 1990, the birth rate in Japan fell below 1.60 for the first time. Hence, with three squandered economic decades of stagnation to limited economic growth, static wages, pension concerns, job security ending for vast numbers concerning temporary work, and the knowledge of the debt mountain – then unsurprisingly, the birth rate isn’t facing a genuine uptake at any time since 1990. After all, the political elites are slow on the uptake. However, it is inexcusable that vast taxes have been spent on helping other nations – while the working poor, single parents, and the general population are left to fend for themselves.

The mainly male ruling elites in the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) who have dominated political power in the last 75 years – apart from the odd minor hiccup – remain out of touch with wider society. Especially the family-dominated ruling political elites that rise to the top each decade. Therefore, female workers still face discrimination, temporary workers have limited rights, job perks for full-time workers are in decline, pension worries persist, and other issues related to the cost of living are impacting negatively on wider society. 

Taxpayers in Japan are assisting grand non-profitable projects at home, the coffers of market speculators based on the Bank of Japan propping up the domestic stock market, international projects that have nothing to do with their respective concerns, and ruling elites who adore throwing billions away during major international conferences. The result is not only political apathy but also a nation where vast numbers are opting out of bringing up children because of the huge costs that entail – and because of fears about surviving in the future on inadequate pensions.

The birth rate in Hungary hit 1.29 in 2003 – today, under the current leader Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, the birth rate is 1.53. It is hoped that the birth rate will continue to increase under his leadership and future governments. However, unlike Japan, Orbán implemented family-friendly policies to focus on indigenous population growth rather than some nations focusing on the replacement theory of endless mass immigration. 

Yet, in Japan, family policies come in bits and drabs. Thus real problems are negated or piecemeal aimed at being re-elected. Also, the current leader of Japan – despite the horrendous debt mountain and the low birth rate – is obsessed with doubling the military expenditure. Therefore, unless real economic issues are addressed – and political leaders look at family-friendly nations – then it seems that more negative news will continue concerning the low birth rate in Japan. 

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