Back in 2013 we asked "Why Have Young People In Japan Stopped Having Sex?" And while that might sound like nothing more than a clever headline intended for The Onion, it was prompted by a very serious survey conducted by the Japan Family Planning Association which found that 45% of Japanese women aged 16-24 and 25% of men were "not interested in or despise sexual contact"...a growing trend that has revealed itself via the nation's persistently declining birth rates. In fact, "celibacy syndrome" has become of such great concern for the Japanese government that it is considered a bit of a looming national catastrophe....a catastrophe that seems to be getting worse at an accelerating rate.
According to data released today by Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, child births in Japan will drop to just 941,000 in 2017, the lowest since data first started being recorded in 1899, and nearly 65% below the peak birth rate from the late 1940's.
As the Financial Times notes today, the persistent declines in Japanese birth rates come despite the best efforts of central planners to encourage population growth via a litany of government entitlement programs aimed at helping young families cover the cost of childrearing...
The government of Shinzo Abe, prime minister, has made raising Japan’s birth rate a priority. On Friday it approved a budget that takes the first steps towards providing free pre-school, private high school and university education in an effort to reverse the trend.
Unless the low birth rate is reversed, the only option to increase Japan’s population would be for it to take in more immigrants. Yet despite high inflows of guest workers drawn by the strong economy, Japanese politicians have been reluctant to debate the subject.
Mr Abe’s government has instead set a target to raise the total fertility rate to 1.8. Officials hope the strong economy, combined with measures making it easier for women to combine work and childcare, will encourage families to have more children.
“We’d like to halt the decline by advancing our strategy to support children and make an easier environment for giving birth,” the ministry said.
...they've basically thrown in everything except a pony.
Meanwhile, Japan's aging population means that the number of deaths will likely rise by 3% YoY in 2017 to 1.34 million, a post-World War Two high, resulting in the largest ever natural population decline of just over 400,000.
Unfortunately, the crisis is only expected to get worse over time as projections from the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research suggest the pace of population declines will accelerate and that by 2045 Japan will be losing about 900,000 residents a year. On current trends, the population is set to fall from 126.5m to 88m by 2065 and to just 51m by 2115.
All of which means there is really only one thing left to do...instruct the BOJ to print even more money and start passing it out to expecting parents...which we're pretty sure will solidify Haruhiko Kuroda's official title of "biggest pimp in the world".