Demographic Midnight Strikes Japan

By | February 17, 2023

Abandoned Houses in Japan

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 17 (C-Fam) Policy makers have long known that Japan is in deep demographic distress. More than 20 years ago, Japan completely inverted the demographic pyramid that, for a healthy society, requires a large number of younger people with a diminishing number of oldsters. Japan had become the first country in history to have more people over the age of 65 than under the age of 15.

The latest evidence that Japan is possibly wheezing its last breath comes in a London Times report about the plethora of what they call “witch houses.” These are old creaky houses that have been abandoned by the elderly who had lived there. Many of them had died in these houses, all alone, with no one to hold their hand, and no one to discover them until the smell becomes overwhelming to the neighbors, if there are any neighbors. One neighborhood in Tokyo has 50,000 “witch houses.”

The problem is that decades ago the Japanese bought into the population control ethos. The Japanese believed the claims of UN experts, academics, and billionaires, that fewer children would make them happier and richer. And maybe for a time, it did. But, as the Japanese, and as the Chinese and other countries are about to learn, such decisions come with a deadly price.

It is not natural to have more elderly than youngsters. It is unnatural. It is unnatural for a society, like Japan, to sell more adult diapers than baby diapers. It is not natural for the elderly to die alone and have to be discovered by professional cleaning companies that, as was spoofed in Monty Python, bring out the dead. Dead bodies are discovered lying on the floor surrounded by empty and rotting take-out containers and empty bottles of water.

Policy makers estimate there are 8.5 million abandoned houses in Japan. This is expected to rise by millions over the next 20 years. There is not much relief in sight. The Japanese fertility rate stands at 1.3 children per woman, far below that needed for replacement let alone growth. Most Japanese youngsters, those of marriage and fecund age, are saying they have no intention of ever getting married. An annual report from a Japanese government think-tank reveals that 17 percent of men and 15 percent of women between 18-34 never intend on getting married.

The lifetime unmarried rate among the Japanese is 26 percent for men and 16 percent for women. One million Japanese got married in 1947. By 2021, that number had fallen to 500,000. Japan remains traditional enough that the unmarried tend not to have babies. The total Japanese population dropped last year by 726,000. In the coming years, the Japanese population is expected to have lost 40 million people and fall to 100 million.

Imagine this. An elderly Japanese woman dying alone in her falling down house. Nobody visits her. Her only son very well could be across town living the life of a recluse. That is a thing in Japan. Young people living alone and never going out. This is happening in Japan right now. The government does not know what to do. Neither do UN and EU bureaucrats who spend their time spreading the gospel of population control under the guise of “reproductive health.”

Twenty-five years ago, the UN Population Division hosted a panel to explore the question, how low can fertility go. They shrugged.