As you may have heard, Japan’s population has been in serious decline as of late. This is due to several factors: few immigrants, mistrust of foreigners, and above all, lack of people having sex. Despite what your porn may show you, those Japanese schoolgirls ain’t getting knocked up as often as you’d think. Like pandas, Japanese people may one day go extinct simply because they won’t mate.
This “sexual apathy” has been caused by many things. For one, it is extremely difficult for a woman to have both a career and a family. In Japan, where a person’s job is almost fanatically important to them, this is even more true. For this reason, many Japanese women have simply chosen careers over children. They are also stuck with older and, for lack of a better term, traditional expectations of a woman’s place. Women who become pregnant or even just marry are so expected to quit work that they can come under enormous social pressure to do so and often find that career advancement becomes impossible. There’s a word for married working women: oniyome, or “devil wives.”
This lack of reproduction isn’t all on the womens’ side, either. Japanese men have also lately shown an unusally uncaring attitude towards sex, or the opposite gender in total. Since 2006, Japanese women have complained of soshoku danshi or “herbivore men,” so called for their lack of interest in the opposite sex. There’s an entire industry in Japan that helps men who eschew romantic lives cope with loneliness through relationship-simulating video games and even holiday retreats.
Maybe it was just all the jokes on the internet about Japanese men and their… endowment? Is it possible for an entire nation to develop an inferiority complex?
So, what does this have to with us? Other than possible changes to the porn industry, what does this Japanese sexual apathy have to do with the rest of the world? Well, interestingly enough, if Japan doesn’t start getting its population knocked up pretty soon, the global economy could be in serious trouble.
This isn’t just bad because it means the Japanese economy will have fewer workers and thus be less productive. It’s setting up an economic time bomb that will go off before long. People in Japan tend to live a long time; elderly Japanese are expensive to care for because they spend so many years in retirement and because they’re accustomed to a high standard of living and medical care. For any economy to stay healthy, there needs to be enough taxpayers to support all the retirees. But Japan’s population is shrinking and aging simultaneously, which means that the number of old people is skyrocketing just as the base of taxpayers shrinks.
So far, this all might look like a big problem for the Japanese economy and for regular Japanese people, but not a story with major implications for those of us in the United States or elsewhere in the global economy. But here’s the big problem: Japan is one of the most indebted governments in the world. Right now, Japanese public debt is 200 percent of its GDP – more even than Greece. Japan will be okay as long as it can keep growing but, with its demographic time-bomb, it’s hard to see how that’s possible in the long term.
So how can this problem be fixed? Going back to the panda analogy, we just can’t seem to make Japanese people have sex. What is the future going to look like without Japanese people in it? Will the whole culture disappear with the race? Who will re-inhabit the islands? What will happen to Pokémon and Nintendo?!?!?!