The media rarely focuses on international topics, preferring to focus strongly on American issues or politics, which causes many Americans to lead more sheltered lives when it comes to knowing about the international community. However, its time to shine light on a big problem that could eventually be seen in America, this has to do with Japan's rapidly decreasing population.
Japan's population problem focuses on an issue that is quite common in many developed countries with good healthcare, a graying population. Having a graying population essentially means that there is a high number of older or elderly people in a country, and fewer young families, which can be detrimental to a country. This graying of a population is most noticeable in Japan, where in 2016 it was measured that 25.5% of the population was over the age of 65, a staggering number. Additionally, young people in Japan just do not want to have children anymore, the total fertility rate or the number of children a woman will have during her childbearing years his at 1.45 according to the World Bank, a number that is much lower than the world average total fertility rate at 2.45 in 2015. Though, why is this happening? It seems to be a combination of the stress of Japan's workforce and it's excellent medical procedures.
Japan is known for having a very committed and dangerous workforce. Both Japanese men and women work the most hours out of anywhere else in the world, in fact, they work so often it can be dangerous. When walking the streets of Tokyo or other large cities, it is common to seen bodies on the streets, mostly dressed nicely in suits, passed out from lack of sleep. Additionally, there have been a number of deaths due to the Japanese work ethic. The Japanese even have a word for it, Karōshi, which literally translates to overwork death. With the amount of time that men in women in Japan put into their careers, it is pretty clear to see why raising a child would be extremely difficult to have a job. However, many Japanese women would love to become a full-time mother and quit their jobs, but the amount that men in Japan make is not enough to support a child, so starting a family is even more difficult. The other reason that the population is graying is because Japan has such great medical technology, the elderly are able to stay alive for longer. This prolonged life for the elderly and lack of new families has been a huge issue for Japan, but there have been a few ways the Japanese government has been trying to fix it.
As a population gets older, there are fewer people in the workforce, meaning there are fewer people to support the elderly, which means that elderly support often lies on the government, costing them a lot of money, and bringing the economy down. This is one of the main reasons why the Japanese government is trying as hard as ti can to solve the issue of their graying population. The main methods that the Japanese government has been using are associated with contraceptives. They have tried to limit the access to birth control pills, condoms, IUDs and other contraceptives in a way that would cause young couples to have a child. Additionally, the government has tried to implement a program into the education system that would promote ideals of growing up and starting a family, instead of focusing on a career. These methods have been somewhat successful, but not to the point that it has completely stopped the graying of the population. However, if Japan doesn't take bigger actions, their population will only continue to decrease, and their economy with it.
Though this issue might seem miniscule to people in America, what is happening in Japan could happen to us at any time, and perhaps watching what the government does to fix the issue might, in the end, help us out as well.