I moved back to Japan 15 years after I left from my previous time here — a year in rural Tokushima, followed by several months in Fukuoka. I really loved the time I spent here, teaching English in Japan’s JET Programme. As an Oklahoma boy in an equally rural area of Japan, I was not particularly surprised by the advanced age of the population in Tokushima. After all, it couldn’t have been an America-only phenomenon that young people often migrated to the big cities to chase a bigger dream than the family farm.
However, it was pretty shocking to discover upon my return, over the first few months here in 2016, that the aging population was a thing happening to the entire country! In spite of that, even now it seems that life continues on as though nothing is going on. Even though the median age of Japan continues to climb and the birthrate continues to decline, people are still content to keep their nose to the grindstone and pretend that nothing at all could be going wrong.
Thus, it is important to occasionally take some time to review the situation and how the population crisis is affecting us now (as well as in the future), as well as how our inaction today will compound the trouble further down the road.
And that is exactly what we get with this article by Chris Weller in Business Insider (from May 2017). Not only does he give an overview of how the current population issues formed, but also how they continue to compound and proliferate into new problems in Japan’s workaholic culture. Further, Weller continues by showing how this trend could show the future of other industrialized countries, even decades from now.