Turns out that Japanese citizens are aware of their fate, but there seems to be no solution to avert the impending disaster.

Japan has long struggled with a rapidly declining birthrate, and though it isn’t the worst in the world — Singapore being the lowest — it is far from solving a complex problem that has plagued the country for decades.

What makes Japan’s situation so dire is that it’s also home to the world’s highest population of elderly people, and Japanese people themselves have varied opinions on why they’ve arrived at this predicament. But there’s worse to come.

The latest probe at the problem by Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications revealed that as of 1 April 2018, the number of children under the age of 15 was estimated to be 15.53 million (7.95 million boys and 7.58 million girls).

▼ Which may seem like a lot,
but is actually the lowest ever in Japanese history.

2017 already saw a despairingly record low of 15.7 million children, but this year’s number brought that count even lower. That’s a steady decline for 37 years straight since 1982.

Additionally, the proportion of children to total population has continued dropping annually for the past 44 years to the current 12.3 percent, the lowest ever since 1975.

Breaking it down at the prefectural level, Tokyo was the only prefecture to experience a hike in children population, a pattern that’s been repeated for the past four consecutive years. Beach-filled Okinawa pulled its weight with the highest proportion of children at 17.1 percent, while Akita Prefecture came in the lowest at 10.1 percent.

▼ What will become of Japan 50 years from now?

Shocked by the news and faced with possible extinction, netizens aired their grievances:

“Our declining birthrate began more than two decades ago, right? The country simply isn’t motivated at all. The people truly bothered by it are the ones who are old themselves, so it won’t change.”

“They say that we continue to have less children, but raising children in Japan is really tough. I’m concerned about student loans, as I have to work to repay it. If I lose my job bearing a child, who’s going to repay it? It takes about 20 years to finish repayment, and after that it’ll be late childbearing. Having children isn’t realistic.”

“Of course. Almost every Japanese has to scrape by with income tax, municipal tax, pension, and health insurance payments. If you don’t work, the only option the country gives you is committing suicide. We don’t have the privilege of having children. More than 50 percent of ordinary people are desperate.”

Japan is currently experiencing the repercussions of decades of low birthrate, as evidenced by its aging workforce. Its citizens are suffering as a result of that, but what is astonishing is the lack of ample measures from the government to combat this silent killer of countries, with later generations experiencing harsher eras than the last.

Perhaps implementing that Breeding Visa program isn’t such a bad idea after all.

Source: NHK News via Hachima Kiko
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert images: Pakutaso (1, 2)