Japan's population is shrinking and aging at record speed. Last year, the number of births fell below the 800,000 mark for the first time, the government announced on Tuesday. At the same time, the number of deaths rose to a record high of around 1.6 million.
Government tries to boost birth rate
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida declared boosting births to be the most important task. Parents are to receive more money, services for families are to be expanded and Japan's working world is to be reformed. But experts doubt that this will really change anything. So far, all attempts by the government to boost the birth rate have been unsuccessful.
With low birth rates and low levels of immigration, Japan is aging faster than any other industrial nation in the world. Entire regions are dying out, houses are empty and dilapidated, schools are being closed. Many Japanese are getting married later and are postponing the birth of their first child. In addition, many women are not willing to give up their own careers to have children. A lack of participation by men with their long working hours is also given as a reason. In addition, many younger people cannot afford a family.
Some sectors of the economy such as the construction industry, trade or gastronomy are suffering from a noticeable shortage of workers as a result of the fall in the birth rate. The government succeeded in integrating more women into the labor market and in employing older people for longer. But without foreign guest workers, it is no longer possible in Japan either.
But unlike Germany, Japan, which prides itself on its homogenous society, shies away from widespread immigration. Many experts consider it unlikely that Japan will eventually bring about widespread immigration. The culturally isolated country shyed away from the challenges that such an opening would entail. This also includes the fear of more crime in a country that has so far been considered one of the safest in the world.