Japan is old, ancient even… in its culture, and unfortunately, in age of its population, so much so that the concept of 'depopulation' is an actual fear and now part of the country's battle to stop the age-old fear of death by old age.
No one wants to die… at least not most people - and so Japan is setting up dialogue and committees to address the problem.
Short of performing a Logan's Run Carousel solution (killing people when they reach a certain age) or perhaps NOT having people feel they need to work so much that they are too tired to have sex, the Japanese government is looking at how its own economic policies can play a part in at the very least maintaining its current population.
The government plan is actually based on a report it received in May of 2014 from a government-appointed panel
Now, perhaps this is just me, because I am an immigrant to Canada - like about 99% of the people here - but it seems to me that Japan could quite easily fix its aging population problem (which is compounded by fewer people having kids), by simply opening up its borders to increase immigration and making it easier for those immigrants to become citizens.
But… that's not what Japan is doing. Nope… the Japanese government wants to stick its collective nose into Japan's boudoir… its bedroom… and see if it can boost the country's fertility rate… oh yeah… and to also start-up some other measures that might stave of Japan's pubic hairs from greying.
The Deciding The Future panel (known as the Sentakususru Mirai - which no matter how you describe it, it just sounds wrong in English), was appointed under some cabinet’s Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy, releasing an interim report in May saying that in 50 years some 40 per cent of the country will be older than 65-years of age.
Granted I'll be close to 100 by then, but I'm pretty sure Japanese women my age aren't going to be as attractive to me then, what with me being all decomposing and all.
As well, the report suggests that the population could fall by one-third… drop by 33 per cent, meaning that there will be a real fight for adult diapers with plenty of rambling talk about how much better things were in the old days.
The report goes on to suggest that even if the country's fertility rate was to INCREASE to a stabilizing 2.07 kids per couple by the year 2030, the population would still drop to around 100-million… dropping even lower after that before stabilizing eventually at around 2090. It's around 127,650,000 per 2012 numbers.
An older population base will also mean that unless Japan starts to better utilize women (of any age) and employable senior citizens in the workforce… there will be a real shortage of Japanese labor.
Prime Minister Abe, who is quite often about the now, but still seems to want to do the right thing for the future, knows that if there isn't a stable and growing Japanese labor force, that alone could hinder his plans for a Japanese recovery into super domination.
In fact… a shrinking Japanese economy would become more susceptible to pressures from foreign financial markets and increasingly incapable of curtailing the effects of short-term market fluctuations.
Oh yeah… more old people… more social welfare monies to be paid out.
A shrinking economy could start a complete downward spiral of Japan's fortunes from which it might not be able to recover for a very long time.
What to do, what to do? I believe in Canada back in the early 20th century there were rewards programs for parents who had multiple children…. maybe Japan could try something like that… pay the Japanese to procreate. Fug… I'd do it. I know I'd certainly like to practice more.
The report says that the need is to “ensure a prosperous environment for the young and consecutive generations so they can marry and raise children.” To accomplish this, the panel stresses the goal of maintaining the population at around 100 million over the next 50 years.
The report says Japan must apply MORE resources to increasing the birth rate.
The report highlighted five areas where reform efforts need to be directed.
1) Create an environment conducive to raising children.
Ideally, the average number of children per couple should be 2.4, but currently this stands at 1.7. Policies to create an environment favorable to raising children, such as gradated increases in birth, child-rearing, and education subsidies for couples with three or more children, should be advanced to bring the fertility rate back up to the 2.0 range. These subsidy increases should rely on the current generation of taxpayers instead of passing the cost on to later generations.
I think that means that everyone is going to pay you to have more sex as long as you take off that condom and don't use any kind of birth control.
2. Ensure long-term growth by opening the economy and creating new value through innovation.
Keeping economic growth and development steady at the current levels is key to maintaining quality of life… but don't we all want more? I want more. I want more than what I have, that's for sure.
I'm not sure what this means: "Advancing open and flexible institutional reforms will reinvigorate industry and corporations, while removing domestic barriers will allow Japan to enjoy the fruits of global growth and development by building a reservoir of human, material, monetary, and information resources."
"Okay… it's now… nearly 2015… I want people… to go out… there… and start innovating. … Come on… hurry up! We're on… a tight… deadline! Innovate people innovate," screams honest Abe while tympani drums beat out a slow four-four time rhythm.
WTF? That, my friends, is government bullsh!t that says what it wants but offers no real plan of how to achieve it. Advancing open and flexible institutional reforms? Explain that please?!
No wait… are you saying what I think you are saying? That maybe Japan needs to remove the huge pickle from up its ass and get foreign workers in?
I'm not talking JET Programme or hunky New Zealand bartenders, or whatever you are - no… I'm talking about having more gaijin brainiacs in… maybe those with the skills to create the next robots working alongside the Japanese worker!Maybe even having gaijin bosses if applicable.
It means getting rid of the adage I just made up, but seems to be a real philosophy: "You don't have to be Japanese to work around here, but it helps!" Just take the best players available - regardless of country of origin!
*Gasp* - or if you are Japanese, please feel free to suck a lot of air in between your teeth - it means having a less homogenous society - but look, it's Japan…we should learn to speak your language if we are going to live there (says the guy who learned enough to survive three years and get laid often).
3. Structure society so all people can reach their potential, regardless of age or gender.
If you just read the header, it sounds like - I'm six-years old, and I want to be a dinosaur doctor… or a rock star. Age does matter… as does gender. From what I understand, female triceratops really dislike male doctors, claiming they are too horny. I know…pot… kettle… black.
Just kidding there… this stuff is so effing dry that if I don't release every little while - you know what I mean - I'd go crazier.
Basically, the report says that either the government needs to mandate something or companies need to do it themselves, but Japan needs to become the type of country where there is balance between work and home life.
Whoa. That is radical. You mean you can leave after working an eight-hour shift? That you don't HAVE to stay as long as the boss does (you know he's asleep in his closed-door office, right?)… and then you don't have to go out drinking with the co-workers… you can go home… relax… watch some TV (realize that every show is food-related)… hang out with the kid… help put the kid to bed after screaming at them for being so annoying… and then screw the brains out of your spouse…. no condom, though… Japan needs pregnant women.
In my mind, by having the, oh, let's say husband home early, there can be more of a sharing of home tasks… of cooking, cleaning, laundry… and hell… maybe the wife can then get a job during the day. Heck… the kids are at school and at club anyways…
So yeah… men and women can be in the workforce at the same time… oh, how I dream of that. Nine effing years… I'll just say that I used to be upper middle-class. But now…
Japan… just think… with two incomes coming in… you can enjoy your leisure time that much more!
It's weird, huh… one paying job… two people tired… no time for real fun.
Two paying jobs… shared familial responsibilities… more time for real fun. Brilliant panel report…
Make companies pay overtime. Or, since everyone is a "Salary Man" and get's paid the same regardless of how many hours of work are put in - let people (salary dudes and dudettes) know that Japanese tradition has killed Japanese procreation. To quote my favorite line (and yours) from The Bad News Bears: In Breaking Training: "Let them play! Let them play!"
The report suggests that there must also be some sort of way for the older people to find some employment - to make an active an productive part of society.
What… like Walmart greeters? Let me tell you… I have NEVER been greeted upon entry into Walmart. I have been greeted every time I walk into a LEGO store in Toronto.
Still… I know what the report means. Between the ages of 65 and 68, my grandfather worked as a security guard at what were then ritzy apartment buildings. Those buildings - just like Gotham City - are now pretty… ugly. My grandfather had a heart attack and then retired... which isn't helpful to Japan or Canada which still paid social security out to him for another 20 years... but with more old people working you get more family income... and if they do die at work... well... the government saves a few bucks. I know - heartless bastard... but, it's reality.
4. Strategic promotion of regional strengths
The report means find new ways to promote agriculture and tourism… to create local employment hubs… to which I say say… whaaaaaa?
I'm pretty sure that looking for new ways to promote Japan's tourism and agriculture has always been high on Japan's list… not counting WWII when it preferred its people to visit other countries or the three hundred years it sheltered itself from outsider influence.
Agriculture? What? Promote agriculture? Come in and see our many rice fields?
I know that in Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken, there's an Asian Institute where they taught Japanese rice farming techniques to folks from various east Asian countries. I think the part about needing a wet monsoon season falls on deaf ears to the folks from Afghanistan, however.
Okay... maybe Japan could start growing its own marijuana or poppy plants for opium et al.
Basically, this whole section (#4) is bullcrap of the highest degree.
It says that regional urban centers need to be the focus of concentrated government service programs and efforts to revitalize economic activity - which means they need to find ways to stop the country bumpkins from wanting to go to the see the bright lights, big city.
You know that you want to see the city… that the allure is strong, but what about your mother and father? Who will help them harvest the rice? You stare at the mirror and wonder if anyone else knows that the book Bright Lights, Big City was written in the second-person.
Anyhow, the report says it would be very helpful if not every single effing job was placed in Osaka or Tokyo.
But… I'm pretty sure that many a company has already moved or expanded its facilities to the do inaka (rural areas), creating a dough inaka. I know many an automobile manufacturer and many an electronics firm have factories and offices out in the smaller towns and cities…
What does the report suggest? It doesn't. It just says what you need to do without telling you how to do it.
"Three-four-six-eight-everybody innovate! Goooooo team!"
5. Create a secure social base
Efforts must be made to create a specific Japanese brand through promoting the unique traditions and culture, as well as an aesthetic sense and values that are products of the country’s distinct historical landscape. Japan can remain an influential and active player on the international stage by contributing to global efforts and rule making.
That's what the report says. Really.
Apparently the people on the committee that wrote the report have never been to Japan.
There are Japanese bridges, Japanese wristwatches, Japanese chopsticks, Japanese kimono… everything is turning Japanese, I really think so.
Make people drink more sake? Everyone should wear kimino? How do you create an industry? Do we need to create MORE Hello Kitty brands? More Nintendo? More Sony? More Pokemon? They really ant the world to catch'em all.
In fact, I would wager, if I had a yen to bet, that Japan's promoting of itself… of its traditions and culture are what has gotten the country in this fug-less situation in the first place.
It's time to be proud of being Japanese - okay, I get that. I'm proud to be a good Catholic boy and a great Canadian man. Okay… Catholic by accident, but Canadian by choice. I don't have to live here, but I choose to because I love it.
It's okay to love the culture and tradition and history of your country. It's okay. Just don't think that your sh!t smells better than everyone else's sh!t. That's how feelings of superiority arise and that's when countries, imperialistically-speaking, go nutsy (sic).
Look… this whole report is a lot of interesting stuff, that really makes you think… but so does the whole Harry Potter book series… knowing that it's a whole lot of made-up hocus-pocus.
Basically, if Japan takes ONE single thing away from the whole report… it's that IF the country isn't keen on allowing greater immigration and creating easier ways for immigrants to become Japanese citizens…. THEN… it really does need to look at halting the population decline but creating financial incentives for families with at least three on a leash.
In fact… along with financial incentives to have a minimum of three kids - regardless of kiddie gender - the Japanese government needs to make sure the families can afford to properly bring-up the kids… that no kid suffers because some Japanese mom and dad are keen to whip out the Japanese pride.
Pay as you play. Pay as they grow up - RIGHT through the end of school days… stopping payments when the kids are 18 is crap… parents can't afford university - at least not everyone can… and despite genetics, one can't assume a scholarship will pay for everything - so the government needs to find a way to ensure no kid is left behind that is capable of succeeding in university.
As well… Japan really needs to mandate some proper work environment legislation.
No one may work more than 10 hours on any given shift, unless it's the police, medical or firemen who can work a maximum of 12 hour-shifts. Or whatever… you can decide on the exact timing.
Hell… three eight-hour shifts means three times the employees needed for police, medical and fire.
Who pays? Tax companies more… cities… citizens. I don't know… At least I'm making suggestions… I would need to have a complete understanding of Japanese economics to have an honest answer rather than just an honest opinion.
The point is… allow people to work eight hours and to be able to go home without fear of recrimination from fellow employees or employers who might consider them lazy!
"There's no law that says Japanese workers must work 16 hours a day."
True… but it's the Japanese culture of bullying - oh it exists - that frowns upon individuals who don't work as hard as the boss who... trust me… is either asleep or working hard counting all the money he has made by his employees providing him will all that FREE labor.
Even though I was a gaijin in Japan… I worked my eight hours at school or the board of education office and then I said good night and left for home.
In Japan, when one leaves work before others, they say - and I mean everyone says this: "Osakini (shitsureishimasu)" , which translates in English to: “I am being rude doing this before you.”
I even said it. I said it because I initially felt bad that I was leaving before everyone… because I wanted nothing more than to fit in. (That's not true - I wanted nothing more than to go home and relax and, if I could, have sex with or without a woman.)
Yes... even I felt bad for leaving before my still-working comrades.
And THAT is why everyone in Japan works late. "The nail that stands up gets hammered down."
There's nothing completely wrong with that Japanese adage. But there are times when it doesn't work.
Japan needs to figure out when it does and doesn't work. Then go home and start making babies.
Somewhere on a panel,