May 2, 2017

THANKS, DOUG:

Missing Manpower: How Japan's Dwindling Population Impedes Remilitarization (Ikenna Ugboaja, 4/17/17, Harvard International Review)

Despite the signs that the country may need greater military self-reliance, Japan's steadily aging population presents a substantial impediment to remilitarization now and in the coming decades. Japan suffers from one of the lowest birthrates in the world, while enjoying a remarkably long life expectancy. This trend has resulted in steep population decline. The population peaked at approximately 128 million in 2010, and subsequently shrunk by roughly 1 million by 2015. Japan's population is projected to fall to 86 million by 2060 and to reach extinction in one thousand years. According to the Statistics Bureau, as of 2014, 33 percent of the population is over the age of 60, while only 12.8 percent is age 14 or younger.

These demographic trends will have an adverse impact on the labor market, as the proportion of retirees and pensioners skyrockets and the proportion of working age citizens steadily diminishes. Given the nation's strict immigration policies, there is no significant influx of foreigners to compensate for this labor shortage.

This impact is especially acute for the SDF, whose all-volunteer workforce already struggles with recruiting, as many young people choose higher education or private industry over military service. According to a recent report from the Ministry of Defense, the number of people eligible to join the SDF--citizens age of 18 to 26--has dramatically decreased from a height of 17 million in 1994 to 11 million in 2015. Another report from the Brookings Institution projects that, at current rates of depopulation, Japan's Air Self-Defense Forces alone will be forced to close three bases by 2025. If these demographic trends continue, developing a stronger and more self-reliant military will be a challenging prospect.

Posted by at May 2, 2017 6:45 AM

  

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