Japan faces unprecedented population contraction in 2015 census
BY SHANNON ROBERTS
While we often point out the low fertility rates around the world, in most countries the size of the population isn’t actually contracting – yet. However, that is not the case in Japan any longer. Japan’s population is decreasing and getting older faster than almost any other country in the world. The country’s national census, conducted every five years, will begin this Thursday and is expected to show the first ever drop in population since the survey began back in 1920. However, we will have to wait awhile to get the actual figures which will be released in February.
The census will provide basic data needed for various policies, including welfare services and disaster prevention. The welfare system is expected to become ever more strained in coming years without enough taxpayers to support the increasing elderly. The median age is now over 46 and people are living longer and having fewer babies. The many other countries that also have rapidly aging populations are following Japan’s plight closely. Jeffrey Kingston, a demography professor at Temple University’s Tokyo campus, comments that: “We’re sort of the guinea pig. A lot of societies are interested in what aging policies work and which don’t work, and we’re going to be finding out.”
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