Japanese minister calls for immigrants to help boost population
Taro Kono, a Japanese minister and member of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democrat Party, has called for the country to increase immigration to help offset the nation’s falling birth rate.
Japan has one of the lowest birth rates in the world, and lowest for any large country, according to data from Index Mundi. Together with the world’s longest life expectancy, 83.5 years, the country’s population is rapidly ageing, with about 24% of citizens over the age of 65 in 2012. Most developed countries have around 10% – 20% over 65, with the US having 14% in 2014. In Afghanistan only 2% are over 65.
Prime Minister Abe has identified the trend of falling birth rates as a key issue that needs to be addressed. Taro Kono has said the country should establish an “integrated” immigration policy to tackle the problem.
“Even if you magically increased the birth rate by tomorrow, still it would take these babies 20 years to grow, so we really need to do something about the labour market,” said Kono, talking to Reuters. “Think about China. They will soon start getting old and need a lot of care workers and they will start sucking in all the foreign workers, and then it’s going to be fierce competition.”
If trends continue, Japan’s population, which stands just under 127 million today, could fall to below 100 million by 2050. Germany are also among the oldest populations in the world, and have a birth rate almost as low as Japan. In 2015 it is projected the European country will have taken in 1 million immigrants, many refugees from Syria and Afghanistan.