ABC Bias ....

 

Below is an outrageous piece of biased reporting, and reflects badly on ABC News.
Not only is it  not  necessarily bad news if Japan's population is set to shrink; it mght be very bad news if it were not.
For the past hundred years, over-population has been Japan's most persistent problem.
The current population of some 128 million is at last stable and poised to begin declining (slowly at first) ; but it is already several times too large to feed itself from Japan's mountainous islands.
Linked to Japan's food problem is its energy problem. Modern agriculture depends heavily on fossil fuels, not just for machinery, processing and transport, but for converting into high-energy nitrate fertilisers. (As terrorists know, a tonne of such fertiliser is almost as good an explosive as the oil or gsas it was made from.) Without abundant cheap fuel and fertiliser, it is possible that if Japan reorganised most of its population into agricultural work units it cd again feed the 30 million people it did in the Edo period in the C19th. With abundant cheap fuel (and therefore fertiliser) it might feed half its present population.
Japan has tried three separate solutions to this dilemma.
1. Colonial aggression. Seizing the resource-rich Chinese province of Manchuria, and later vast swathes of territory in the Pacific. This got Japan into World War II, caused immense misery to Japan and most Pacific countries (including Australia), and led to nuclear bombs being dropped on Japan.
2. Post WWII, Japanese families greatly reduced their birthrates. A stable population meant that Japanese bankers did not invest in real estate but rather in productive industry. Generous terms from the American victors, plus national discipline turned Japan into a major exporter. Fuel oil could then be cheaply imported in indefinite quantity. Japan stole such a march on its neighbours that its exports paid for all the oil and food it needed to export.  Japan remained a predator on the world's forests, fish-stocks, and whales, but took what it wanted by economic rather than military force.
 But its competitive advantage could not last indefinitely. Japan was about 95% dependant on imported energy. Oil prices began going from $10 a barrel towards the  $100 a barrel they are now (and probably in the future far higher). Many other nations now had labor, know-how --and energy.  And while Japan was slowly stabilising its population, it had failed to reduce it.
3.  So Japan went nuclear, kidding itself that it was safe to build reactors in a tsunami and earthquake zone.  Democratic politicians have very short time-horizons (like, Will this solution hold till after the next election?) but almost inevitably they were caught out. Japan built nuclear reactors -- a decision that could have rendered all Japan, or even conceivably much of the Northern hemisphere, uninhabitable -- this was arguably a crime against humanity, and a folly against  Japan itself. But it was also a way for their leaders to postpone, conceal and seemingly avoid one huge cost of population growth. In effect they took an irresponsible bet that a major earthquake would not come in their lifetime. Now that it has come, we can recognise that this was no solution at all. However it had the temporary effect of masking their real situation, and thus producing a contented electorate.
 However last year's tsunami produced a Chernobyl-level disaster; and we now know that even the evacuation of Tokyo was considered.
 
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Japan is now trapped. It must reduce its population, but this will give it a much older population. An older population is good up to a certain point, but beyond a certain point is almost as bad as the too-young populations of those fast-expanding nations where most of the population is too young to work.
 Japan provides a cautionary lesson to all other nations, of the folly of letting your population grow beyond what your resources can safely sustain. Her experience over the past century shows how hard it is to extricate yourself once you let your population pass a safe limit.
We in Australia should learn this lesson.  Sadly there are some short-sighted persons who see only the business advantages of a growing population. The Can Do Better website  has an analysis of the fallacies about Japan that are being spread by the self-styled "Committee for Melbourne" and other parts of Australia's growth lobby. See http://candobetter.net/node/2398   Sadly, this article "Japan: Walking and talking disaster: Andrew McLeod on ABC News Breakfast" shows how uncritically some ABC presenters amplify the growth lobby's propaganda.   (See also Antony Boys, "How will Japan feed itself without fossil energy?" in The Final Energy Crisis, Pluto Press, UK, 2008.)


 
ABC News  By Akiko Fujita  Jan 30, 2012
The world’s oldest country is about to get even older.
New figures released by the government estimate people aged 65 and older will make up nearly 40 percent of the population of Japan 50 years from now. Even more troubling, the country’s population is expected to shrink by 30 percent, with birth rates showing little signs of improvement.
The forecast, conducted by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research every five years, paints a dire picture of Japan at a time when the country is already struggling to support its elderly — roughly a quarter of the population — amid a shrinking workforce.
In the last few decades, Japan’s social security budget has soared 15 percent, an increase of 1 trillion yen per year. 50 years ago, there were a dozen workers for every social security retiree. 50 years from now, there will just be one.
Complicating the issue, is Japan’s dismal birthrate. Young workers have increasingly become reluctant to start families, because of financial concerns. Women are putting off marriage altogether, worried it could tie down their careers. On average, Japanese women have 1.4 children. That number is 1.9 for U.S. women, according to the CDC.
Still, researchers say the study released Monday shows the rate of population decline has slowed slightly, compared to estimates released five years ago.
There is one number that continues to go up: Japan’s life expectancy. Already the highest in the world, researchers estimate life expectancy for Japanese women will increase from 86 to 91 over the next half century. The number is expected to rise from 79 to 84, for men.