Can Japan Rise Again? Or Will Demographics Doom Her And The West As Well?
We can thank Providence that the
earthquake was not 150 miles closer to Tokyo, else
Japan`s dead might number in the millions.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan calls it
the worst crisis since World War II. Yet, horrendous as
it is, it does not, thus far, compare with that. For the
earthquake dead are not 1 percent of those who perished
in World War II.
Between 1942 and 1945, Japan was
stripped naked of an
empire that embraced Formosa, Korea, Manchuria, the
entire China coast, all of French Indochina (Vietnam,
Laos, Cambodia), Thailand, Burma, Malaysia, Singapore,
the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia), the
Philippines and the Western Pacific out to Guam and
south to Guadalcanal.
Yet, 25 years after the most
devastating defeat in modern history, Japan boasted the
second largest and most dynamic economy on earth.
Under the proconsulship of Gen.
MacArthur, Japan rose to her feet, renounced war and
reached an annual growth rate of 10 percent by the
1960s, 5 percent in the 1970s, 4 percent in the 1980s.
Smaller than Montana and with fewer resources, she
created an economy half as large as the U.S. and in many
ways technologically superior.
An extraordinary accomplishment of
an extraordinary people.
At the end of the 1980s, Japan
seemed poised to surpass America.
It did not happen. The last two
decades were lost decades, with Japan`s economy
shrinking to a third of that of the United States. Last
year, Japan was overtaken as the world`s second largest
economy by China. Beijing now produces more automobiles
and has a trade surplus with America that dwarfs that of
In 1988, eight of the 10 largest
companies in the world were Japanese. Today, Japan does
not have one company in the top 20 and only six in the
top 100. Her national debt is 200 percent of gross
Can Japan come back from this
earthquake and 20 years of economic stagnation and
political malaise to recover the dynamism she exhibited
in the decades after World War II?
To do so will require a far greater
miracle. The reason for such pessimism may be summed up
in a single word: demography.
Japan has 127 million people,
highest population ever. Yet, the United Nations
projects that 25 million Japanese will vanish by 2050.
Why? Japan is the oldest country on earth, with a median
age of 45 and a fertility rate below zero population
growth for 40 years.
To sustain a population, the
fertility rate of its women must be 2.1 children.
Japan`s rate, 1.27 children per woman, is not two-thirds
of what is required to replace her present population.
In 1960, when Japan was striding to
overtake West Germany as the No. 2 economy, 49 percent
of her people were under 25 years of age. Less than 8
percent was over 60.
Today, only 23 percent of Japan`s
population is under 25, more than 30 percent of all
Japanese are over 60, and Japan`s median age has shot up
to 45. Japan is projected to lose 3 million people this
decade, and nearly 6 million in the 2020s.
To put it starkly, Japan is aging,
shrinking and dying.
In 2050, less than 19 percent of
all Japanese will be under 25, while 44 percent will be
over 60. The median age will reach 55, and this assumes
a U.N.-projected rise in the fertility rate that is
nowhere in sight.
Writing on the decline in Japanese
students in U.S. universities, The
number of children [in Japan]
under the age of
15 has fallen for 28 consecutive years. The size of the
nation`s high school graduating class has shrunk by 35
percent in the past two decades."[
Once drawn to U.S.
universities, more Japanese students staying home,
By Blaine Harden, April 11, 2010]
Where have all the children gone?
Yet what is happening to Japan is
not unique to Japan.
Russia`s population is shrinking at
two to three times the pace of Japan`s. She is losing
half a million people a year. Germany and Ukraine are
running Japan a close race. Only immigration from
Africa, South Asia and the Middle East enables
Britain to project population growth. Native-born Brits
departing and dying.
Indeed, every one of the East Asian
and European nations that
scored highest on the international tests for math and
science has a fertility rate that assures an aging
and shrinking population.
Where is world population growth to
Between now and 2050, Africa`s
population will double to 2 billion. Latin America and
Asia will add over a billion people.
Just six nations, Muslim and poor—Bangladesh,
Egypt, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey—are
expected to add almost 500 million people to their
combined populations by 2050.
If demography is destiny, the sun
is not only setting in the Land of the Rising Sun. The
sun is setting in the West.
CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.
Patrick J. Buchanan
no introduction to
VDARE.COM readers; his book State
of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and
Conquest of America, can
be ordered from Amazon.com. His latest book
Hitler, and "The Unnecessary War": How
Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost
Paul Craig Roberts.