I am a fan of Japan ever since I visited the country. The land, the people, the culture, the silence, their practices, their history and their management practices – everything about them is interesting. I have been a student of Japan and read up everything I come across about this beautiful country. But this article based on a recent data from the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research seems worrying. Here is the link to the detailed article: http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/graying-japan-tough-choices-population-dilemma/
The two big challenges facing the Japanese society are:
- Ageing population: While everyone hails that the average Japanese and his / her longevity, it is becoming a real challenge to the government’s social security cost. The average Japanese live long and live healthy, but they become less productive because of so many factors including changes in the way business is conducted, the changes to technology, etc. But the cost of maintaining the minimum lifestyle is really becoming difficult because of the reduced income to the government coffers and this is due to the second challenge.
- Shrinking population: While policies and lifestyle are equally to be blamed for the reducing workforce (working population), it is now beginning to tend towards a large scale challenge for the Japanese economy. If the government and the socially responsible leaders of the society don’t come together and make changes, the society over the next 20 – 50 years may look very challenging. The population will continue to shrink and it in turn will reduce the number of people available for jobs, which eventually reduces the income accruing to the government. The government income is needed to take care of the fast growing population of aged (retired) people.
This two-pronged challenge needs to be handled strategically by the leaders and everyone responsible for the country’s future. But it is highly possible that Japan can take those calls and make the change happen. It has a history where people have lived for national causes and sacrificed a lot for national causes. I am fairly sure that Japan can find a solution to its slow but upcoming social challenge. But a challenge of this scale requires a diplomatic, charismatic and courageous leader, who can make such a large scale change happen. Will he / she show themselves in time? Only time will tell.
But there are lessons other countries can learn from this even before the challenge starts forming – but are they?
Lets think about it!