Japan’s future workforce shrinks as demographic catastrophe deepens

A record low number of Japanese turned 20 last year as the country’s future workforce dwindled and a generation grew up with muted growth, low inflation and low interest rates. zero until the age of majority.

The Latest government figures showed that the number of Japanese in their 20s on January 1, 2022, fell by 40,000 from the previous year to about 1.2 million, the lowest level since the survey began in 1968.

The drop reflects Japan’s persistent inability to reverse declining births. The fertility rate stands at 1.34 children per woman of childbearing age in 2020, with just 840,000 babies born in Japan that year.

Japanese population fell to 126.6 million early last year, continuing to decline steadily since its 2008 peak of 128 million.

The drop in 20s reduces the country’s “new adults” group to just 0.96% and casts a shadow over Monday’s “Teenage Day”. The national holiday is marked by ceremonies welcoming the 20s with both the joys and responsibilities of adulthood.

“I am very much looking forward to the ceremony. . .[but]I’m not sure if I can really get too excited about being an adult,” said Rina, who is renting a kimono for the occasion in Tokyo’s Shibuya district. “Japan seems to have a lot of problems that are never resolved and I guess they are my problems now.”

She added that it is somewhat comforting that the number of Japanese reaching formal adulthood will increase this year as the legal age comes – allowing people to buy cell phones and apply for loans without the need for a loan. parental consent – first reduced at 140. ages 20 to 18.

Studies on the attitudes of young Japanese people towards work and business show that the country is relentless demographic woes harbored a desire for stability above all else. Several 20-year-olds told the Financial Times that their main ambition is to join a company and avoid taking risks. Many say, entrepreneurship represents a terrifying leap into the unknown.

For similar reasons, support for the ruling Liberal Democrats is higher among young people than in other generations. Junji Nakagawa, a professor at Chuo Gakuin University, said it reflected the view of 20-year-olds that the political landscape is unlikely to change.

“They don’t think the economy will get any better in the future because the economy has grown at a very low rate as far as they can remember. The number of students who want to become local civil servants has increased recently because they want to settle down,” said Nakagawa.

A 19-year-old male student, who has been counted as an adult since April, said he voted for an LDP candidate last October. “We are really in a state of emergency with Covid-19, so how can I suddenly entrust my will to another party? I can’t trust anything,” said the student, who did not wish to be named. “So that’s why I want things to stay the same.”

Report by market Macromill’s research group revealed last week that 20-year-olds are less international and more domestic-focused than previous groups, a trend that could be exacerbated by prolonged travel curbs due to Covid -19.

Compared with the previous year, the survey shows that the number of people who want to work and study abroad, work with foreigners in Japan and learn foreign languages ​​has decreased. Most notably, the percentage of people who want to “use English for work” has fallen from a 2020 high of 10.6 points to 38%.

Yuki Murohashi, representative director of the Japan Youth Conference advocacy group, says that, above all, the mood of Japan’s youngest adults is one of low-level despair.

“They no longer feel that Japan will rise because they have not experienced development since birth,” says Murohashi. “But they also don’t think it will go down much. There were no great expectations or disappointments.”

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