The Japanese Crisis: Economic and Demographic

A Japanese crisis in the willingness to breed has economist worried.

china japan flags

It made the news at the Washington Post, so maybe we can hope that people will begin rethinking the overpopulation hysteria: “Japan’s sexual apathy is endangering the global economy.”

That’s an attention-grabbing headline! I think it somewhat simplifies the picture. But the facts in the story are amazing. For example:

  • Extremely high numbers of Japanese do not find sex appealing. 45 percent of women and 25 percent of men, ages 16 to 24, are “not interested in or despised sexual contact.”
  • More than half of Japanese are single. 49 percent of unmarried women and 61 of unmarried men, ages 18 to 34, are not in any kind of romantic relationship.
  • In every age group, the percentage of Japanese men and women who are not in a romantic relationship has been increasing steadily since the 1990s.
  • About a quarter of Japanese don’t want a romantic relationship. 23 percent of women and 27 percent of men say they are not interested in any kind of romantic relationship.
  • More than a third of childbearing-age Japanese have never had sex: 39 percent of women and 36 percent of men, ages 18 to 34. That number hasn’t actually changed much over the last decade, but it is unusually high.
  • The Japanese population institute projects that women in their early 20s have a 25 percent chance of never marrying and a 40 percent chance of never having kids.

The results could be a financial calamity that spreads all over the world. In a sense, Japan may be to the planet what Greece has been to the EU.

Last year, economists Peter Boone and Simon Johnson warned in The Atlantic that Japan “could face a wave of insolvencies, triggering a broader loss of confidence” and setting off a financial crisis greater than even the Euro’s. Investors could one day look at the country’s aging and shrinking tax base and decide that Japan’s public debt might not actually be such a safe investment, triggering a loss of confidence and possible insolvency. Given that Japan owns $1.1 trillion in United States debt, a Japanese financial collapse could be very scary for us as well. Perhaps worst of all, that could endanger China’s already tenuous economic slow-down; China is Japan’s largest trading partner and the two economies are closely linked.

(Side note: That is interesting since we are constantly told that the U.S. must intervene to protect Japan from China. Are we being played?)

The only issue I have with the article is that it makes the demographic issue appear out of nowhere. But I think it is likely that a “zombie” economy in Japan started the destructive sexual habits (or lack thereof) in the first place. As I wrote in November 2013,

Japan has been a deflationary ghost economy for two decades and it has given rise to a national phenomenon of adult-child room-dwellers who refuse to go outside. (Oh, did I forget to mention, another phenomenon is young men who have lost interest in sex?)

So a bad economy discourages reproduction which, in turn, causes more economic damage. So then what happens? Will the worsening economy cause us to adopt even worse (non) sexual practices?