This page has been archived and commenting is disabled.

Simon Black Explains How Japan Is Causing Its Own Demise

Tyler Durden's picture


While not necessarily a new topic, one which has been previously dissected by such strategists as Dylan Grice, the quandary of Japan's deteriorating demographic shift is one that the country can not afford to delay in addressing, yet continues to do just what the US does so very well, by kicking the problem into the future, and hoping it will resolve itself on its own. Today, Sovereign Man Simon Black shifts his focus on the Japanese demographic crunch in a piece titled "Japan is causing its own demise." As always clear and concise, the questions he brings up are critical. And therefore very unlikely to get an answer by anyone in "control" before it is too late.

Japan is causing its own demise, by Sovereign Man

Most people have never heard of Lee Kuan Yew... but he's an incredibly important figure in one of the world's most cutting-edge economies.  As Singapore's first prime minister, he governed for 3 decades, overseeing his country's transformation into a modern, developed economic powerhouse.

Prior to Lee's tenure, Singapore was fairly provincial backwater under British colonial rule; completely devoid of natural resources, its only real importance was as a conveniently located trading post.

Post-independence, Lee's government passed substantial labor, immigration, and tax reforms that were incredibly favorable to businesses and foreign investors. These policies are widely viewed as the spark for Singapore's economic growth, and Lee is still heavily revered today for those decisions.

In short, he has a Mandela-like influence in his society... and when Lee speaks, people listen in Singapore.

Last week, Lee made some remarks about immigration and Singapore's aging population, indicating that in order to avoid a disastrous population decline, Singapore needs to attract young immigrants to save the economy in the long run:

"At these low birth rates, we will rapidly age and shrink... So we need young immigrants. Otherwise our economy will slow down, like the Japanese economy.... [Young immigrants] will increase our population and talent pool. Singapore will be vibrant and prosperous, not declining and ageing."

Low birth rates and declining populations tend to have terrible consequences for an economy; in countries which have a bloated social welfare network, for example, a declining population means that fewer and fewer people are paying into a pension system that supports more and more beneficiaries.

Perhaps more importantly, though, an aging population dramatically shifts its consumptive habits. Older folks are notoriously thrifty, usually opting to save their money for an uncertain future. They don't have young children to go through a different size shoe every month, college tuition to pay for, etc.

Saving is ordinarily a good thing for an economy-- it's an essential ingredient in long-term growth along with technological advancement. But 'being thrifty' isn't necessarily the same as 'saving'.

Generating a large pool of savings requires a society to produce much more than it consumes... and with a declining population, even though a society is consuming less, it is also producing less because the labor force is decreasing as well.

The net effect of population declines is a deteriorating standard of living and a host of social welfare system that go bust. Whatever younger generation that still exists is usually burdened with the clean-up costs, but this only increases their rate of emigration. Nobody wants to get stuck with the check.

Japan is a rather famous example of a developed country with a demographic crisis. The rising cost of living and decades-long economic decline caused families to have fewer children, such that the birth rate for the last 30+ years is well below the 'population replacement level' of 2.1 births per woman.

With a median age of 44.6 years, Japan already has one of the oldest societies in the world (compared to 39.6 in Singapore, 40.7 in Canada, 36.8 in the United States, 28.9 in Brazil, 25.9 in India, and 31.7 here in Chile).

Japan also has one of the world's highest life expectancies and highest costs of living... which means that the long-term cost to support idle pensioners is extremely high.

One would think that the Japanese government would be rolling out the red carpet for young foreigners, yet Japan remains a fairly closed society. Foreign residents comprise less than 2% of the population according to government statistics, not enough to even qualify as a drop in the bucket.

Without serious addressing this issue and attracting young foreigners both at the economic and cultural level, Japan runs substantial risk of fading into obscurity.

It's amazing how so many governments don't get it... going out of their way to repel or even prevent talented foreigners from settling, as if the fundamental freedom to work hard and prosper is somehow derived from bloodlines, ethnicity, or irrelevant, invisible lines on a map.

These governments will figure out soon enough that labor and intellectual capital are easily exportable assets. Some governments like Singapore, Estonia, and Chile understand that truth, and they've laid out incentives to compete for foreigners and establish conditions for long-term growth.

Singapore's open, mutli-lingual, multi-cultural society is well-equipped to deal with the matter... and given the host of residency incentives that it already provides to talented foreigners, I suspect this free market approach will become a model for global migration and population stability.

Sometime in the next two years, I expect the government to act quickly and unveil a new series of packages aimed at attracting younger people to Singapore; I will look forward to telling you more about it when the time comes.


- advertisements -

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Mon, 01/24/2011 - 15:53 | 899739 SheepDog-One
SheepDog-One's picture

What? Japan get with the program, just print more money and pump up your stocks. Most on Zerohedge agree this is a totaly failsafe economic model.

Mon, 01/24/2011 - 16:15 | 899812 jus_lite_reading
jus_lite_reading's picture

Indeed. With Ireland now printing its own EUROS out of F'ing thin air, all other debtor ations will do the same and solve all problems in a matter of minutes.


Simply print. ----  The Fed is officially, "unsinkable." China's growth is "unstoppable." And those food riots popping up are nothing to be concerned with- the people will simply starve to death, and the problem will be solved. <sarc off>

Mon, 01/24/2011 - 15:54 | 899745 citationneeded
citationneeded's picture

How did we (if at all) get by through the millenia without demographic planning?

Mon, 01/24/2011 - 16:02 | 899770 SheepDog-One
SheepDog-One's picture

Why mess with yucky demographic planning when you can just run the printers at full speed? Voila, problems all solved.

Mon, 01/24/2011 - 20:29 | 900814 DaBernank
DaBernank's picture

We died before we turned 40 and were constantly engaging in warfare.

Mon, 01/24/2011 - 15:56 | 899754 AnAnonymous
AnAnonymous's picture

Generating a large pool of savings requires a society to produce much more than it consumes...


Hurrah! Again, the fabulous story of producing more than consuming. Of course, as human production activities are all consumption activities, well, hurrah...

This guy confuses saving and waste. Could be lethal to him as he no longer lives in the US.

Mon, 01/24/2011 - 16:05 | 899779 SheepDog-One
SheepDog-One's picture

Pffffht...all so 1990's style, 'savings, production, planning' what a set of old fashioned notions....just ramp up the printing press to full speed!!

Mon, 01/24/2011 - 16:31 | 899868 AnAnonymous
AnAnonymous's picture

They were (for most of them) based on waste.


Growing on waste...

Mon, 01/24/2011 - 15:58 | 899757 Azannoth
Azannoth's picture

There are 2 types of immigration, you can import young skilled and talented White/Asian men and women(Singapore) or you can import 3rd world black/brown people without skill and talent(Europe and America)

The results are self explanatory

Mon, 01/24/2011 - 16:22 | 899834 Non Passaran
Non Passaran's picture

Above post is a typical example of content that turns (normal) people away from ZH these days.

(Personally I don't care if someone posts such crap, but I'd like to be able not to read it, which is why I'd like to have the Ignore User patch added to ZH site code.)

Mon, 01/24/2011 - 16:47 | 899932 JW n FL
JW n FL's picture

You... WE! should suffer all the forms of ignorance available.. as a reminder, to what our duty should be...

Mon, 01/24/2011 - 16:56 | 899958 GDE
GDE's picture

Well that content is just the awfull truth. Immigration is a desaster for Europe and I hope the Japanese will never make that mistake. The european civilizations will not survive to immigration and multiculturalism. Good job, Uncle Sam.

Mon, 01/24/2011 - 17:29 | 900086 goldsaver
goldsaver's picture

I fail to see what is so contemptible in the above post. In order to be economically and societally beneficial, immigration must consist of migrants that have a net positive contribution to the country the migrate to. If the migrant is young, bright and educated, the overall contribution will be a net gain to the overall production in the country. If the migrant is uneducated, low skilled or old, the contribution is a net negative as his/her participation in the country consumes more goods and services that it produces. That is reality.

In the US, for example the vast majority of immigrants from Mexico (brown people) are either low skilled/uneducated (fruit pickers, domestic service, gardeners), criminal (MS-13 and other drug gangs) or old (grandma been brought over by her family). There is no logical matrix by which anyone can claim that their contribution outweighs their footprint of consumption in this country. Sorry, reality sucks. You might use the standard fare talking points, it does not changes reality. Paco mowing the lawn does not produce enough to outweigh his emergency room visits, his 9 kids attending the public school system or his welfare/social security/SNAP subsides.

Young Asian immigrants, on the other hand, are usually educated, have an engineering or IT degree and can produce multiples of their footprints in both actual goods and services and tax remittances to the Fed. They are usually fully employed (or self employed), start their own businesses and hire other Asian migrants providing a multiplying wealth effect.

Pointing out reality is not racist. It just is.

If your fragile psyche can not handle the truth, I recommend you try MSNBs instead. Or perhaps MTV. The new series "Skins" is pretty hot with all those nubile 15 year olds (yuck, I just pucked in my mouth a bit)

Tue, 01/25/2011 - 10:38 | 902392 yellowbr
yellowbr's picture

sad, but sadly rather true.

Of course a country needs also low-skilled workers, but if they have ambition & respect towards the host country, it will be a net gain.

In Europe, too many immigrants are not interested in getting to know the host country but are only interested in exploiting all the benefits, while shielding them off from the host's culture.

Tue, 01/25/2011 - 04:53 | 901882 Azannoth
Azannoth's picture

If you don't like the Truth why read ZH in the 1st place ?

Mon, 01/24/2011 - 22:09 | 901210 sensei
sensei's picture

Props to you for speaking the truth - no matter how ugly it is to hear.

Tue, 01/25/2011 - 08:34 | 902040 sethstorm
sethstorm's picture

How about neither for a while in the US?  Perhaps there is something to learn about Japan.

Mon, 01/24/2011 - 16:01 | 899768 AnAnonymous
AnAnonymous's picture

Dont ask too much from Japan. They have already it very hard to deal with their Burakumin and Hinin population issues. Useless for them to advance to the next stage as they are still floundering with low level population absorption.


Mon, 01/24/2011 - 16:02 | 899772 Bigger Dickus
Bigger Dickus's picture

Gold longs are being raped.

Gold bugs will only see the bottom at $1050.

By then most of them will have sold and will be too scared to buy the dip. $1600 should be the end of the bull market for gold before Japan-style deflation sets in.


Mon, 01/24/2011 - 16:07 | 899785 SheepDog-One
SheepDog-One's picture

1050? Well since all the experts said it would never get over $1,000, not bad.

Mon, 01/24/2011 - 16:58 | 899971 traderjoe
traderjoe's picture

$9 is a raping? 

Mon, 01/24/2011 - 16:04 | 899774 Bigger Dickus
Bigger Dickus's picture

The charts tell me that the top of the bull market in stocks is june and the intermediate top in gold is in.

Mon, 01/24/2011 - 16:06 | 899784 Sudden Debt
Sudden Debt's picture



what where they thinking... luckely we are all much smarter...



Tue, 01/25/2011 - 10:47 | 902421 yellowbr
yellowbr's picture

Exactly!! And the US is much smarter, cuz hey... the Chairman just said so, "it cannot happen to us"!! Rosenberg is totally wrong with his comparing charts!

Mon, 01/24/2011 - 16:20 | 899824 dark pools of soros
dark pools of soros's picture

"Generating a large pool of savings requires a society to produce much more than it consume"

only in relation to ANOTHER society that has to be the consumer, no?   If it was just within the one society, then all the extra production goes to waste while they shun the over consumption


So perhaps Llyod & Ben ARE doing God's work after all?

Mon, 01/24/2011 - 16:20 | 899826 Bubbles...bubbl...
Bubbles...bubbles everywhere's picture

Listen to Yew, or this wil not end well.

Mon, 01/24/2011 - 16:26 | 899853 Piranhanoia
Piranhanoia's picture

one word answer;   "Idiocracy"

Mon, 01/24/2011 - 16:30 | 899863 Gordon Freeman
Gordon Freeman's picture

Keep the barbarian round eye far from these shores, neh?

Mon, 01/24/2011 - 16:32 | 899871 Johnny Lawrence
Johnny Lawrence's picture

Speaking of Japan, look at the advance/declines in their market since the crash of 1990:
















As it stands today, the Nikkei is 73% below its nominal peak of late 1989.  So to say, we're in a new bull market because of one strong rally is a bit retarded, especially when the economic similarities between us and 1990s Japan are striking.

Personally, I need to learn how to better play those bear market rallies, but let's not kid ourselves.  We're in a world of shit.  Everything that's being said now "We're in a recovery", "business is improving", etc.  All of this stuff has been said before.   And look what happened.


Mon, 01/24/2011 - 16:33 | 899876 zero intelligence
zero intelligence's picture

"We need more suckers to keep the Ponzi going."


The problem in Japan is not that they have old people. There's nothing wrong with old people. The problem is that they are not set up to deal with old people. They just need to set things up to deal with old people.

Mon, 01/24/2011 - 17:36 | 900120 goldsaver
goldsaver's picture

Ok, I'll bite. How? How do you set up your society to support a larger portion of the population that produces less and consumes more. Oh yeah. You get the Bernank to print you some more debt notes. Silly me.

Mon, 01/24/2011 - 16:35 | 899893 fearsomepirate
fearsomepirate's picture

Japan's government is run by Keynesians, who think jobs are a scarce commodity and the chief thing any stagnant economy lacks is sufficient slips of paper with numbers printed on them.

Mon, 01/24/2011 - 16:37 | 899897 commoninvestor
commoninvestor's picture

Sorry to spoil the fun. Nowadays, the government and mainstream media have spinning tendentious lies to delude the public.

I'm a local Singapore citizen and I have this to say:
Singapore has no freedom of information and speech. Almost everything is being suppressed here.

Recently, Singapore government boasted about 10% economic growth. GUESS WHAT? I AM JOBLESS now despite being well-educated with skills and experiences.

Singapore government-linked welfare and help groups did nothing (not a single cent), just sweet talks and waste of my time and depleted savings. There was a period couple of years back when I WAS UNEMPLOYED FOR MORE THAN 1 YEAR. And that time, Singapore government still boasted about growth!

More surprises? I have a close friend (also local) and he is among the unspoken long-term discouraged unemployed in Singapore.



Mon, 01/24/2011 - 16:42 | 899920 AnAnonymous
AnAnonymous's picture

As long as you can chew gums... Oh wait, you cant.

Tue, 01/25/2011 - 08:32 | 902037 sethstorm
sethstorm's picture

Indeed - it's all fun and games until your government can shout "Defamation!" if you don't fit their picture.

Mon, 01/24/2011 - 16:46 | 899931 Stuck on Zero
Stuck on Zero's picture

This is so much malarkey.  The U.S. lets in huge numbers of immigrants and has the worst economic performance in the world right now.  We have the most prisoners of any country in the world and 80% are immigrants or first generation immigrant children.  Almost 10% of immigrants are retirement age.  Immigrants have, on average, 5.5 children which places a huge load on schools systems.  Increased immigration means an increase in population and requires massive amounts of infrastructure development.  Japan does not need so many people.  It has solidly moved into the 21st century and uses automation everywhere.  They are smart.  We are dumb.

Mon, 01/24/2011 - 17:27 | 900089 Lord Koos
Lord Koos's picture

"We have the most prisoners of any country and 80% are immigrants or first generation immigrant children."


Sounds like bullshit to me... where are the stats for this claim?  

Mon, 01/24/2011 - 20:18 | 900777 Stuck on Zero
Stuck on Zero's picture

Here's all you need to know: " In 2000, the average age of an immigrant was 39. That's about four years older than the average age of a native-born American. That number includes immigrants who have been in the country a long time."



Mon, 01/24/2011 - 17:33 | 900110 pitz
pitz's picture

Exactly.  Japan didn't get to having 130 million people on an island less than the size of California, without having a good handle on economics and the soundness of not allowing unfettered immigration.

Mon, 01/24/2011 - 18:12 | 900261 GDE
GDE's picture

Prisons in Europe are also full of immigrants and these are rarely Asian.

Mon, 01/24/2011 - 16:48 | 899937 JS1234
JS1234's picture

This criticism is only valid if the function of a country is just maximizing GDP.  Like maybe the function of a country is the preservation of a kind of people.

Mon, 01/24/2011 - 16:48 | 899938 Atch Logan
Atch Logan's picture

This guy is mixing up social theory, economics and keynsian blarney.

His logic is sophistry, like that of a pretentious eighth grader.

How does he even know what he is trying to say?




Mon, 01/24/2011 - 16:52 | 899945 GDE
GDE's picture

Japan like the rest of the earth is overcrowed. A country with less people has better chance to feed properly its citizens and make a better living for them.

Mon, 01/24/2011 - 16:52 | 899948 pitz
pitz's picture

I think the author has it all backwards; a shrinking population means that there is more resources and more production, to be shared amongst fewer people, which improves living standards.  Its no coincidence that the least densely populated countries in the world have the highest living standards and per capita GDP. 

Japan has also taken steps to deal with the loss of workers.  For instance, it doesn't have a financial sector that is bloated and produces nothing.  It uses vending machines whenever possible instead of human labour.  And it hasn't allowed its economy to be ruined like that in the United States by excess immigration.

While Japan will be shrinking its way to prosperity, nothing less than genocide in the United States will restore it to its former glory.  I say, fire up the ovens, and lets get on with it!

Tue, 01/25/2011 - 12:59 | 903065 BigJim
BigJim's picture

Feel free to lead by example, fascist.

Mon, 01/24/2011 - 16:55 | 899960 rete
rete's picture

"As always clear and concise..." and also somewhat wrong. From individual census agencies, the median age:

Canada: 39.7 (July 1, 2010)

Singapore: 37.4 (mid 2010)

Mon, 01/24/2011 - 16:57 | 899968 InconvenientCou...
InconvenientCounterParty's picture

The young people are all staring down at their gadget dejour rather than making eye-contact with the opposite sex.

I don't care how you market it, if a gadget does not increase your chances of copulation, it's kind of pointless right?


Mon, 01/24/2011 - 17:01 | 899985 Lapri
Lapri's picture

Let them fade. They'd rather fade away than seeing their country full of "foreigners" who don't share their values and genes.

Mon, 01/24/2011 - 17:29 | 900096 topcallingtroll
topcallingtroll's picture

Japan would rather go into obscurity than allow too many of the inferior races (everyone else) onto their island. They are pinning all their hopes on super intelligent.robots that will clean house, help with homework, design and build.toyotas, and also.has the vibrating vagina for the fastidious japanese male too busy playing on the computer to chase any real poon.

Mon, 01/24/2011 - 18:04 | 900226 max2205
max2205's picture

They don't want no Muslims in there. And they are trying to maintAin the gene pool. Look around. Everybody's turning brownish. Not that that's a bad thing. Just saying

Mon, 01/24/2011 - 18:18 | 900279 GDE
GDE's picture

It's a bad thing when it's a full society project forced by governements. For example, if you want to mix all the European people until they're all brown and muslims, then it's nothing less than a form of a genocide and that's exactly what's happening over here. White has suddenly become trash and black the only beautiful thing on earth.

Mon, 01/24/2011 - 21:27 | 901057 Buck Johnson
Buck Johnson's picture

So GDE it was alright that blacks was considered trash and whites weren't?  Lets figure this out, we have a planet so big and a finite amount of resources.  We don't have the capability to reach other planets and colonize.  So as the population of the world increase more and more people fight for resources.  So if we decided tomorrow to say that all nationalities cannot cross mate with other nationalities and keep everybody with their own then what do you have.  You have people conditioned for their own tribe and sub tribes.  So now competition for resources will be not for a nationality anymore but ones tribe over the other.  You will make it where the tribe people will always feel obligated to support their own no matter if say a white or black or asian etc., is in need of help.  It will be a you can have whats left society and the weaker tribes will be crushed.


I remember a joke that Bill Maher did a few years ago that hit the point right on the head.  The punch line was that everybody should start to f*** each other and we will all be the same.  The crowd applauded but it was a low key type of thing.  You can tell that they didn't know how to take it and also many didn't like it.  And that was zealots of one type of people believe that others are inferior to them and vice versa.  A form of racism that is the heart off all this race issue.  They don't like the idea that another races man is F***ing their women or men and vice versa.  It's the hangups of idividuals that have messed up alot of people's mind.  At one time all of us was brown and black GDE a few hundred thousand years ago.  We diversified and now we are coming back together as one.

There was a quote from No Country for Old Men by Ellis, Tom Bell's uncle (essentially the last part of the movie)  "Whatcha got ain't nothin new. This country's hard on people, you can't stop what's coming, it ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity".

And this can apply to what your concerned about (our white race may or may not going out).  For thousands of years since humans could form community and civilizations, its always been a fear of men and women (Mostly men) that another tribe or people would get rid of them and take what they want, thats not whats happening.  As I said before that we are emerging back into one type of people is true, distances don't matter and people are essentially next door with communications.  When a people lived 2,000 miles away or more thousands of years ago, many people where spread out and worried about the tribe that was close to them (usually the same type of people).  Now we don't have that anymore, the world is smaller. 

We are forming new types of societies and the old ways of thinking and doing things are becoming older by the minute.  You want to stop what is happening, how do you stop something like that without blood or grief or even pain.  Human nature is to group with ones that are like you (white, black etc. etc. etc.).  But another aspect of human nature is that we can change.  You have to change just as the dark people you commented on have to change also.  The old groupings are dying off and new ones are developing.  It's all not waiting on you or me and I think you know that deep down.

Mon, 01/24/2011 - 20:40 | 900846 Str8Gain
Str8Gain's picture

Hmm..........paging Aldous Huxley:


Since you need consumers to maintain a mass market, well, why not just have the State supply them? (/snark)


Mon, 01/24/2011 - 21:02 | 900941 Suisse
Suisse's picture

Aging populations are a result of the demographic transition. Obviously the world population isn't going to increase indefinitely, it's supposed to peak circa 2050.

Tue, 01/25/2011 - 00:27 | 901621 StychoKiller
StychoKiller's picture

Singapore does not have the inertia supplied by Shinto to slow down their diversification, Japan does.

Tue, 01/25/2011 - 03:53 | 901838 essence
essence's picture

Tyler seems to like Simon Black, but I can't help but see him as a slick salesman pumping his shallow expat advice for a profit.

Having been to Singapore and Japan many times on business, I always find myself happy to to move along after a few days,  and not on account of the character of people. They're  fine, industrious folk.

Both these places are quite crowded, Singapore especially so. Its claustrophobic being such a small island and sitting in that sultry equatorial haze. A heavy handed government doesn't help either (although the US has certainly closed the gap this last decade).

Japan suffers from a government that couldn't face up to dealing with the leveraged bad debts back in the 1980s and has attempted to sweep those toxic debts under the rug ever since. As such its younger generation pays for that with reduced opportunities.  Heck, if I was a younger Japanese male I wouldn't want the burden of a wife or family either. (Scarey, but in this too, the US is closing the gap).

The worlds a crowded place today and the ponzi growth model just won't work going forward because physical growth means increased comsumption of scare resources.

Perhaps the outlook would be better if that Cold Fusion report out of Italy today does in fact prove out. Better yet, add warp drive to the wish list too ... so humans can go out and infect ...errr    colonize the galaxy.



Tue, 01/25/2011 - 08:29 | 902028 sethstorm
sethstorm's picture

Post-independence, Lee's government passed substantial labor, immigration, and tax reforms that were incredibly favorable to businesses and foreign investors. These policies are widely viewed as the spark for Singapore's economic growth, and Lee is still heavily revered today for those decisions.

He bowed to business at the cost of regular folks in that country.

Wed, 01/26/2011 - 05:26 | 905540 fajensen
fajensen's picture

This is blatantly WRONG:

Singapore's open, mutli-lingual, multi-cultural society is well-equipped to deal with the matter... and given the host of residency incentives that it already provides to talented foreigners, I suspect this free market approach will become a model for global migration and population stability.

Singapore is absolutely not multi-cultural; It is determined to only accept people who are professional, willing to work hard, able to adapt and willing to fit in. Singapore is a tribe of Skilled Professionals, if you like. Try some chewing gum on the street in Singspore and you will very quickly understand!

Singapore is the exact opposite of the failing multi-culti, hallal-hippie, model-society and THAT is why it is successful - it is determined to attract the kind of people that are considered useful to society, by Singapore - not "the international community" and not the UN, and it deliberately excludes everyone who are not considered useful and Singapore discriminates harshly against any behavior it does not approve of. 

Singapore is open if you have useful skills and you fit in with the rules. Rights are earned, never granted. I totally agree with that. 

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!