December 25, 2005


Cabinet approves austere 2006 budget worth 79.7 trillion yen (MAYUMI NEGISHI, 12/25/05, Japan Times)

The Cabinet formally approved on Saturday a 79.686 trillion yen general account budget for fiscal 2006 that would help slow down growth of the nation's debt. [...]

Starting in January, taxpayers will see income taxes go up by roughly 10 percent when tax breaks in place since 1999 are halved. The government plans to completely remove the 20 percent tax break worth a maximum 250,000 yen in January 2007. Meanwhile, a residential-tax cut of 15 percent will also be rolled back in two stages starting in June.

In addition, the ruling coalition has agreed to raise tobacco taxes next July, increasing the cost of a pack of cigarettes by 20 yen. Liquor taxes on low-malt beer and wine will also go up.

"We need to re-examine our preconceptions of the elderly as weak members of society who need protection," said Finance Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki. "We need to ask people to bear a burden that reflects their ability to pay, so that we do not leave a heavy burden for our children to carry."

With these tax hikes along with hefty tax revenue from large corporations, the government expects revenue to rise to 45.878 trillion yen in fiscal 2006, up 4.3 percent from the current year.

It's what happens when you have no kids and no immigration.

Falling birth rates not just a problem in Europe (MARK STEYN, 12/25/05, Chicago SUN-TIMES)

Here's a story from Friday's Japan Times:

''Japan's population has started shrinking for the first time this year, health ministry data showed Thursday, presenting the government with pressing challenges on the social and economic front, including ensuring provision of social security services and securing the labor force.''

Happy New Year, guys! And, as the reporter adds, ''Japan joins Germany and Italy in the ranks of countries where a decline in population has already set in.'' And don't forget Russia, which is even further ahead in the demographic death spiral. Of the great powers of the 20th century, America's still healthy birth rate, like its still healthy Christianity, is now an anomaly.

Demography is not necessarily destiny. Today's high Muslim birth rates will fall, and probably fall dramatically, as the Roman Catholic birth rates in Italy, Ireland and Quebec have. But demographics is a game of last man standing. It's no consolation that Muslim birth rates will be as bad as yours in 2050 if yours are off the cliff right now. The last people around in any numbers will determine the kind of society we live in.

You can sort of feel that happening already. ''Multiculturalism'' implicitly accepts that, for a person of broadly Christian heritage, Christianity is an accessory, an option; whereas, for a person of Muslim background, Islam is a given. That's why, as practiced by Buckinghamshire County Council in England, multiculturalism means All Saints Church can't put up one sheet of paper announcing its Christmas carol service on the High Wycombe Library notice board, but, inside the library, Rehana Nazir, the ''multicultural services librarian,'' can host a party to celebrate Eid.

To those of us watching Europe from afar, it seems amazing that no Continental politician is willing to get to grips with the real crisis facing Europe in the 21st century: the lack of Europeans. If America believes in the separation of church and state, in radically secularist Europe the state is the church, as Jacques Chirac's ban on head scarves, crucifixes and skull caps made plain. Alas, it's an insufficient faith.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 25, 2005 8:42 AM

Before Steyn, et al, condemn the Japanese and lord over them with smug moral superiority, they should walk a mile in their shoes.

They should live a lifetime in with their entire family in one room apartment rabbit warrens - and pay a fortune every month for the priviledge.

They should spend their working lives being crammed like sardines into their commuter trains.

They should try and figure out where all those extra Janaese from a hypothetical expanding population are going to live.

Then they should try to budget their income so as to pay for their children's needs and education without living in poverty.

Then they should ask themselves why they should have large families under these conditions.

There comes a point where continuing to have large families is evil and morally wrong. Japan has reached that point.

Posted by: bplus at December 26, 2005 9:12 AM

Not large, just adequate. The belief that children are an evil, so much a part of the secular worldview, explains it all.

Putting time, money, and energy into children instead of just yourself is indeed morally superior. Such selflessness is the essence of morality.

Posted by: oj at December 26, 2005 9:18 AM

Who said children were evil? The consequences of uncontrolled and irresponsible breeding are evil.

Unless you consider the desire for a reasonably comfortable, modern middle class lifestyle to be inherently selfish.

Posted by: bplus at December 26, 2005 10:14 AM


Of course the decision to forego children in favor of yourself is selfish and thus evil.

Posted by: oj at December 26, 2005 10:18 AM