Japan and Samoa amongst countries with shrinking populations


A Japanese crowd

By Lagi Keresoma

TOKYO, JAPAN – WEDNESDAY 18 OCTOBER 2017: Japan and Samoa are amongst the countries racing to resolve their shrinking populations.

Japan, despite having a population of 126 to 127 million people, the concern is that the number is declining rapidly.

This was revealed by the President of the Foreign Press Centre of Japan (FPCJ), Kiyokata Akasaka during a meeting this week with journalists taking part in the 2017 Pacific – Caribbean Journalists Programme coordinated by the Association for the Promotion of International  Cooperation (APIC) and the Foreign Press Centre of Japan (FPCJ).

“Japan’s population is shrinking,” said Akasaka. And not only the population is aging but there is a reduction in the number of children.

He said in the next 20 to 30 years, Japan expects the population to decline to 100 million.

Japan’s birth rate which stands at 1.41 is quite low although there are other countries with much lower birth rates than Japan.

Asked how Japan is dealing with it, Akasaka said that Japan may need another social program to help women in particular to have more babies, and establish a health care facility for children.

There is also the issue of improving conditions for working mothers.

Akasaka made reference to one of Japans oldest traditions of arranged marriages, which in the past had accounted for more than 80% of the population.

Akasaka further explained the concept behind the tradition was an ideal way to secure the future of spouses, and the depth taken to ensure that an arranged marriage is secured.

Today, with the changing world, the population has dropped as young men and women are too busy working.

Akasaka said that marriages are also declining with 50% accounted marriages and the other 50% are unmarried.

“We see single mothers who do not want to marry. There are mismatches, or young women want to marry for money, and men do not want to marry knowing women are after their money,” Akasaka explained.

Samoa, although her population is nowhere near Japan’s, is at static levels.

Samoa’s population has not moved much from 180, 000 and after the last census two years ago, the Prime Minister put the blame on the Family Planning Programmes.

Barry Alleyne, a Barbados journalist attending the APIC program said his country is also facing the same dilemma.

Rachna Nath, a Fijian journalist asked if allowing refugees into Japan would help with the population issue, to which Akasaka said, “Japan needs refugees.”

Barry Alleyne of Barbados and Rachna Nath of Fiji, two of the journalists participating in the 2017 Pacific – Caribbean Journalists Programme in Japan