Ageing Japan and population control since 1868


Ageing Japan and population control since 1868

Since 1868, Japan has developed a culture that is well accustomed to the idea of population control.  With its population consisting of just 30 million, the upcoming government encouraged a growth, in order to compensate its isolation from the rest of the world.  This population growth was designed for two purposes; industry and reform of a developing country, which would eventually become the economic tiger that it is today.

Before this time, large families paved the way to a prosperous life, and the government no longer encouraged previously encouraged behaviors, such as infant genocide, delayed marriages, and abortions, in order to keep the population at a necessary minimum.   The government instituted plans for both social and economic improvements.


With the discouragement of births outside of marriage, women were encouraged to achieve higher degrees of education, which directly caused its purpose; later and fewer marriages.  With aided increases in income, improved social security and pensions, and decreasing rates of infant mortality, the need for large families decreased and brought the birth rate to an average of 1.38 for each woman in 1998, and 1.32 in 2002.( Report: Japan’s Aging Population Challenge for its Economy and Society)

This particular strategy, inflicted by the government, has impacted the demographics of Japan, considerably, and has increased their life expectancy to 76.4 for men and 82.8 for women, the highest in the world.  This article also mentions an alarming statistic that the number of children, aged 14 and under, has decreased by about 20% since 1949, and makes up only 15% of today’s population.  In a related article, (www.kkc/USA/org) Japan’s Aging Society Overview,  it was found that senior citizens, in 1950, made up 4.16% of the total population.  With a steady increase, almost 22% of the population, in 2000, were senior citizens.

Other factors which have also influenced this increase in life expectancy were high-quality health care and technology.  Advances in medicine and science have reduced such things as infant mortality and other, now avoidable, deaths.  The article also mentions improvements in other areas of technology, concerning sanitation and nutrition, which has also helped in preventing avoidable deaths.  The article mentions, but minimizes a traditional diet of an excess of vegetables and fish, and a minimum of dairy and meat.  Factors also contributing to this increase include the closeness of the extended family and those in their society.  If the rate of this increase continues, Japan has the potential to have the highest average age of population by 2025.

The article mentions possible economic changes which could have a negative impact on Japan’s goal.  With a decrease in economic growth, due to a possible shortage of labor supply, a related article suggests a possible cure for this problem could be a steady increase in immigration. ( Report: Japan’s Aging Population Challenge for it’s Economy and Society)   This related article also mentions a new pension system, in which the current workers of today’s Japanese society pay for the pensions of the retirees of today.  Both articles mention raising the age of retirement to 65 and providing incentives for women in the workplace.

Another issue, which may have a negative impact, deals with changes in health insurance.  With increasing premiums and payouts, it is predicted that Japan’s economy could be impacted severely over the next 30 years.  The article then discusses a case study that focused on ‘at-home welfare’.  This system, in particular, provided in-home care to over 800 senior citizens.  While the government is doing it’s best to provide it, health care is becoming an expensive luxury.

The article concludes with a confident outlook on the Japanese government overcoming this issue, sometime in the near future.  The idea of population control has been a slow, but effective method, implemented by the government of recent years of Japan.  It has so far enabled a controlled population, geared toward the best possible outcomes for a growing and developing society such as Japan.

I selected this article for my paper because this issue is a major concern for the future generations of Japan youth.  I also thought that it would be interesting to find out more about why the Japanese live for so long and how this is affecting Japans negative growth rate.

After reading this article and some other related articles, I learned about how the Japanese government has attempted to impact the demographics of their society.  The article also brought to my attention to the negative impacts that are possible if Japans aging society and negative growth rate are not evenly weighed out.  Based on all the information from the article, the government is stepping in and their actions are positively impacting the situation, but it will be a slow and long process.


I can relate the information that I learned too much of the material that we discussed in class about Japan.  The article began with the mention of the Meiji government, who’s restoration led to the entire population increase, which we learned about in class.  This population growth has dramatically affected the Japans negative growth rate of today, which we also discussed in class.


geography review Nov 2001



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