TOKYO, March 3, 2005 ( – With one of the world’s lowest replacement birth rates at 1.3, Japan’s population will begin its decline next year, dropping from its current 128 million to 126 million by 2015, and to 101 million by 2050, according to a Washington Post report. 

Schools there are closing, many converting into senior centres, with pediatricians retraining as geriatric specialists. The ramifications of the population bust will be numerous, but most fear the economic repercussions. Japan’s economy is currently second only to the US worldwide.

“A nation requires a certain scale in the population to continue its momentum, but in Japan, we are confronting a serious combination of a low birthrate and an aging nation,” deputy director of Japan’s Education Ministry Kota Murase said. “Our pension system is already being tested to its limits. And with fewer young people in society, the question is: How are we going to sustain the elderly and the nation’s future? We don’t have a clear answer yet.” 

In the past 10 years, the Post explains that 90 theme parks aimed at children have disappeared, while the number of hospitals in Japan with pediatric wings decreased from 4,119 in 1990 to 3,473 in 2000. In addition, 70 percent of young women have no interest in marriage. In Japan, married women traditionally stay home to raise children. Some towns have even offered cash incentives for couples to have a baby.  



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