Warning bells: Japan's demographic decline

Trade missions are fun. They’re usually led by a governor with a gaggle of state employees, business leaders and family members. You get wined and dined like nobody’s business. Smiles all around. Photos. Nice work, if you can get it. 

Earlier this month, the New Jersey East Asia Economic Mission visited Japan. They came home with deals, prospective deals and warm feelings galore. From the Governor’s Office:

Governor Murphy Reaffirms Sister State Agreement With Fukui Prefecture, Showcases New Jersey To Japanese Business Leaders, and Announces New Jobs Coming To The State

Did I mention that trade missions make for great PR? What’s not to like about bringing jobs to the state?

Startling stats

But all was not glad tidings for the New Jersey junketeers.

Yes, Americans visiting the Land of the Rising Sun are usually impressed. Things run well, people are polite, and you can walk the streets at night without fear of violent crime. Unlike the West, diversity is not their strength.

Visitors to Japan usually don’t see the dying towns with abandoned homes, shuttered schools and absence of children. While being feted in the big city, you would have no idea of the severe demographic crisis enveloping the country. But the Japanese government saw fit to brief the 63-member delegation about it. Interesting.

Webzine roi-nj.com reported:

In 2019, Japan’s trade ministry projected that, by 2025, around 630,000 profitable businesses could close up shop simply because the owner cannot find someone to take over. It’s a situation that has the potential to cost the economy $165 billion and as many as 6.5 million jobs.

Earlier this year, the New York Times ran a story on a farmer who couldn’t find a taker for his farm, even though there was no cost to do so.

You know there’s a problem when you can’t give away a farm. Here in the Shenandoah Valley, if somebody offered a free farm, takers would be lined up for miles.

From the briefing:

  • Ten percent of Japanese are age 80 and older.
  • Almost 30 percent are 65 and older.
  • In the next 50 years, Japan’s population will decrease by 25 percent and the number of retirees will equal the number of workers.
  • In 2022, births fell to below 800,000, a record low.

Demographic death spiral

Japan’s population has been declining for 15 years. The fertility rate is 1.34, way below replacement level. The world’s third largest economy, Japan is nonetheless in the early stages of shutting down. South Korea, China, and Eastern Europe are in a similar fix.

The West would be as well, but for unceasing mass immigration. This is quite interesting from a demographic perspective: while Japan and East Asia shut down from population decline, the West breaks apart from cheap-labour multiculturalism. Who’d have thought?

Japan’s quinquennial National Fertility Survey (2020) found that of ages 18-24, 37.4 percent of women and 36.6 percent of men had no interest in pursuing a relationship. Of those aged 18 to 39, over 40 percent of women and more than 50 percent of men were single.

Many Japanese families have no future, as record numbers of young people forego marriage and children. Even romance and dating are on the decline, giving rise to the “herbivores”, who prefer a virtual lifestyle through gaming and online “dating” rather than face-to-face interaction. Something is not right.


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According to Psychology Today:

[M]ore and more Japanese are choosing to not enter relationships, sometimes as a result of the growing popularity of digital technologies, fruitless online dating, or a preference to form relationships with humanoid robots or inanimate objects (for example, robo-sexism).

Folks, this is beyond weird. Something is radically wrong. Sick. Do the Japanese embrace this appalling aberrancy? You become what you condone.


Once upon a time, the basic social unit in Japan was the ie. Roughly translated, ie means household, including the family home, other property and cemetery plot. Rooted in Confucian tradition, the ie was multi-generational. Primogeniture was the rule, where the eldest son inherited, and his parents lived in the household for life. It was patriarchal; the head of the family spoke for the family.

In judicial proceedings, the ie was a party, not an individual family member. It was the cultural medium for kinship and marriage, obligated to ensure that the younger generation married into suitable families.

By the early 20th century, Japan’s economic rise brought Western-style individualism, and the nuclear family began to displace the ie.

The postwar American-written Constitution of 1947 abolished the ie as a legal entity.

Article 24. Marriage shall be based only on the mutual consent of both sexes and it shall be maintained through mutual cooperation with the equal rights of husband and wife as a basis.

With regard to choice of spouse, property rights, inheritance, choice of domicile, divorce and other matters pertaining to marriage and the family, laws shall be enacted from the standpoint of individual dignity and the essential equality of the sexes.

This legally severed the married couple from the extended family, establishing husband and wife as individuals. Family formation became a matter of individual choice, independent of family.

Some blame Japan’s demographic death spiral on the ie’s demise. Rather, it seems like simply the march of modernity and its triumvirate of secularism, individualism and urbanisation. Then there was the complete, total and absolute postwar makeover of Japanese society, where Western ways became the Japanese way, including collective guilt. Even honouring their own war dead is deemed controversial. Cowed people are easier to control.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not making moral judgments about the Japanese. Weirdness, perversion and social pathologies are a growing infestation everywhere.     

There is an escape hatch from all this, available East, West and Global South: a profound change in beliefs, priorities and lifestyle. A veritable leap of faith. It can happen. Spiritual rebirth.

Louis T. March has a background in government, business, and philanthropy. A former talk show host, author, and public speaker, he is a dedicated student of history and genealogy. Louis lives with his family in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

Image: Pexels


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