Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Getting a bit long in the ha

Japan growth revised downward, with deflation deeper
The Japanese government revised fourth-quarter gross domestic product growth down Thursday, due to slightly weaker corporate capital expenditures and private inventories, and also tweaked down a gauge measuring prices to show record-deep deflation.

Well, they ain't seen nuthin' yet if the following story is any guide to the future for Japan's depopulation.

Even as population shrinks, Japan remains wary of immigration
today the country faces a demographic crisis

The population is aging and shrinking -- a formula for economic calamity and social stagnation. Over time, there will be too few workers to care for the millions of elderly citizens, grow food on farms or fill the manufacturing jobs that drive this export-led economy.

For two decades, Japan's stubbornly low birth rate has barely budged, despite many government incentives for couples to have more children. The result could be a working-age population cut nearly in half by midcentury.

a 2001 U.N. report found that just to maintain its population of about 125 million, Japan would have to permit average annual net migration of 381,000 people for 50 years -- more than 17 million immigrants in that span. And to keep its working--age population at 1995 levels, the country would need 609,000 migrants annually, also for 50 years, or more than 33 million immigrants in all.

That's not going to happen; Japan may be changing, but at nowhere near the rate necessary to save itself. The country, which is likely to be overtaken this year by China as the world's second-largest economy, seems to have made its choice.

The Democratic Party of Japan, which won last summer's elections, has plenty to say about population decline, but the word "immigration" appears nowhere in its manifesto.

There is an absolute blockbuster of a blogged/photo/essay of this subject at Spike Japan. Guambat cannot insist enough that you go have a look at that one. The blogger says a lot things, with pictures worth thousands of words more, one of the more pithy comments being,
It might just be, however, that despite recent evidence to the contrary, Japan has embarked on a vicious demographic spiral, in which a variety of complex feedback mechanisms set to work: aging results in declining international competitiveness, which results in greater economic hardship at home, which results in a suppressed birthrate; aging results in ballooning fiscal deficits, which in the absence of debt issuance must result in higher taxes or cuts to government spending, which cause economic pain, driving down the birthrate; aging, as the elderly dissave, results in a decline in the pool of domestic savings on which government borrowing is an implied claim, reducing room for fiscal maneuver and resulting in less ability to withstand exogenous shocks; aging further entrenches conservative attitudes to everything from pension reform to immigration, resulting in greater government outlays and smaller government receipts; aging leads the electorate to fear for the future of the pension system, resulting in more saving by the economically active, depressing consumption, which drives manufacturers offshore and raises unemployment, which is strongly correlated with the birthrate. Time will tell.

Oh, and as for the title to this post? The word "ha" is Japanese for the English word "tooth". Guambat got that from this webpage: English Japanese Words.

You go to that page and scroll down to "Parts of the Face and Head".

And don't do anything else until you see what they have to say for the word "tongue".

Really; no tongue.

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