The Washington Post Thinks It's Terrible that Japan is Becoming Less Crowded and the People are Becoming Healthier

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Monday, 29 October 2012 06:59

That's what readers of a front page piece highlighting Japan's "decline" would assume. After all, the major facts cited to make the case are a projection that its population would decline from 127 million today to 47 million at the end of the century and that it has the oldest population in the world.

The decline in population might be seen as good news except by those who feel that people exist to give their politicians more power in the world. Japan is a very densely populated country. People are employed to shove commuters into over-crowded subway cars. It is difficult to see why anyone would be concerned if the country becomes less crowded over the course of the century.

In terms of the aging of the population, this is due in part to the fact that Japanese have a life expectancy that is four years longer than the United States. It would have a younger population if its people could only expect to live as long as people in the United States.

In fact, a serious examination of the data does not support the case of a Japan in decline, at least in terms of the living standards of its population. According to the OECD, the average length of the workyear has fallen by almost 15 percent over the last two decades. At the same time, the IMF reports that per capita income has risen by more than one-third. It is difficult to see how this would fit the definition of a nation in decline.