Japan May Lose Developed Nation Status by 2050
According to the 21st Century Public Policy Institute, a think tank based in Tokyo and tied to the Japan Business Federation, Japan is heading fast towards economic decline and may no longer be classified as a developed country by 2050.
In the 1970s and 80s, Japan achieved rapid economic development through trade and increasing exports, but the country is currently facing a prolonged reduction in productivity levels.
The combination of a very low birthrate and a plummeting workforce continues to lead to lower savings and investments, which in turn causes significant damage to Japan's economy. Currently, Japan has a public debt that is twice its gross domestic product (GDP) and has suffered through years of slow growth.
A few years ago, Japan was overtaken by China which became the world's second-largest economy.
Now India is expected to overtake Japan's GDP in two years time, 2014. The 21st Century Public Policy Institute has projected that by the 2030s, the Japanese economy is going to lose its spot as one of the world's top economies. The think tank warns that Japanese public debt could increase to nearly 600 per cent of its GDP by 2050.
The 21st Century Public Policy Institute's pessimistic report suggests that at best, Japan is expected to only slightly fall below the world's current largest economies and at worse, Japan's GDP could collapse leaving the country without a spot in the world's top economies. China, India, and other rapidly developing nations are foreseen to overtake Japan.
A Greying Population
Japan's aging population is counted as one of the main issues behind the country's decline. At the moment, Japan's pension and health care services are under considerable strain.
For the past 41 years, the Japanese government has recorded extreme highs in the number of people aged 100 years and above. According to the Japanese health ministry, 37 out of 100,000 people are aged 100 or over, with 87 per cent of them being women. The total figure is put at 47,756 which is up by 3,300 people compared to the previous year.
Along with a very low birthrate, Japan's population is greying.
The Youth Are “Averse To Sex”
Based on the results of the 14th National Fertility Survey, conducted by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research in June 2010, the majority of Japanese youth are averse to sex.
Some 61 per cent of unmarried men aged between 18 and 34 have no girlfriend, while 50 per cent of women in the same age group have no boyfriend.
What is worse it that the majority of them do not seem to care.
Efforts to get young people interested in relationships are failing and this indifference apparently contributes to Japan's low fertility rate. The number of Japanese youths who are not interested in forming lasting sexual relations increases every year.
At present it is thought that at least one in three young people are not interested in dating, the reasons behind this are linked to the economy – young people keep away from sex because they cannot get married or maintain relationships due to poorly paid jobs – and the Internet, which is blamed for overloading Japanese youth with misinformation and pornography.
Japan's current demographic patterns need to change with a younger population and more babies.
To prevent the fall of Japan's economy, the 21st Century Public Policy Institute proffers solutions such as having the government creating policies that will boost the participation of women in the workforce.
Should the government initiate this, the think tank suggests that Japan could end up being the world's fourth-largest economy in 2050. Presently the number of women in the Japanese workforce is minimal, as women are expected to stop working once they get married or have children. Those who continue in the workforce are usually not promoted to high-level positions.
The think tank also advises the Japanese government to encourage immigration. Japan's low immigration levels mean that there is not enough of a foreign workforce to contribute to the country's plunging work population.
An increase in skilled foreign labour through government incentives could help in improving the Japanese economy by boosting the population. Most immigrants in Japan, from countries such as Brazil, regularly keep in touch with their families back home via courier international.
Nevertheless, worries about xenophobia, racism and hostility targeted at immigrants who are believed to cause increases in crime rates, make it difficult for immigrants to settle into life in Japan.
Editor's Comment: Imogen Reed is a professional writer that I hope will continue to provide guest articles for us. As you can see, she is an extremely fine writer full of excellent research skills and seems to have her fingers on the pulse of Japan. She also provides thought-provoking articles for my good friend Mike Rogers' Marketing Japan blog, and Japan - It's A Wonderful Rife feels very lucky indeed to have her contribute here as well. Cheers, Imogen!