Graying at the temples?

Want a contemporary picture of Japan? Imagine a few less children clambering over the hide of this smiling elephant.

Japan’s population has dropped 1 million since its last census five years ago. The decline is attributed to two chief causes: low birthrates and a reluctance to welcome immigrants to the island nation. Today’s birthrate is 1.4 children per woman, nowhere near replacement rate. Fewer people may have its upsides—reduced commutes, shorter lines, less job competition. But it’s not sustainable long term, with an aging population in need of tax-funded services. The news gets worse: Today’s population of 127.1 million is estimated to fall another 40 percent, to 83 million, by the end of the century.—Diane Richard, writer, March 1


Image: Yuya Shino/Reuters

Source: Jonathon Soble, “Japan Lost Nearly a Million People in 5 Years, Census Says,” The New York Times, February 26, 2016