Picking up on one of Debito’s posts in this new year, I notice that two major news sources reported that Japan’s population shrank again in 2010–with me contributing a “1” to the departing category.
People decry this crisis, but in fact it obviously one that the runners of Japanese society want. And, obviously, these same people do not see immigration as the answer.
Even before my time there, I had read about the problems that Japan was going to have because there are proportionately more old people than young. When the census came around in late September, I studied the bar chart on the back, showing that there were more Kindergarten-age children in the Taisho era than in the 21st century.
I can’t help but think that this is wanted, and I think it would be refreshing if the news finally reported it that way.
There is virtually no social support for young couples trying to create families in Japan. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. Labor policies encourage everything but getting married and starting a family. Even couples who do start ones are quite often stuck at work well after hours, because enforcement of black-letter labor law is done only lethargically. The old people sit and wonder why they’ll never be grandparents, rather than try to think up ways to get grandchildren.
This is not accident. One thing you have to understand about Japan is that many things that are actively sought are made to seem as though they are coming about by chance.
So why the demographic squeeze?
The most likely explanation is that the real reasons behind it have to do with rich Japanese wanting to hold on to money. If it means there are half the number of Japanese around in 50 years, so be it. Probably, this is why a lot of them are so jingoistic and pro-Japan: it’s great cover.
Children cost. Additionally, the more children there are, the more of a constituency there is for social spending on things like schools and education. The more competition there is for rich people’s children. (Remember, this is a closed society, where if you can afford the children and block someone else from having as well, then your kids will keep proportionately more of the wealth.)
Agriculture is mechanized, so it’s not a matter of having a sizable number of farmhands. Eldercare is just not an issue to the wealthy, so the crisis in long-term care centers will just be another one that society encourages everyone to politely ignore, until the people pointing it out get tired and go away.
Japan is one of the biggest “I got mine” societies going. So much is arranged for people to get it good for themselves, and blame the victim who lost. Why is it so hard for news people and analysts not to connect the dots and see there is a powerful minority of Japanese who don’t want more Japanese?
On Debito’s second item, the fact that the foreign population of Japan is also going down, this should be no surprise, given the above. If the bean counters in Tokyo are counting fewer Japanese, do you really think they want the numbers of foreigners going up?
That my country is stuck defending a regime like that, and that I’m forced to contribute tax money to subsidize it, is sickening, but nothing that the ordinary American can change. We still open our doors to Japanese, and don’t care how many kids they have when they are here. We offer jobs on equal terms, and we enforce our labor and pension laws on equal terms—wouldn’t have it any other way.
I just hope that in 2040, when America is 400 million people and Japan is 70 million, that those later generations understand why America will have grown so much closer to China in the intervening thirty years.
It’s going to have to do with policies that wealthy Japanese carried out in 2010.