Japan currently faces a critical situation, with over 10% of its citizens aged 80 or older. This highlights the ongoing issue of rapid aging and a declining birthrate. According to data from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, the elderly, aged 65 and above, now make up an unprecedented 29.1% of the population, making Japan a global leader in the percentage of elderly citizens. The challenges arise from the need to provide for the elderly in terms of pensions and healthcare, as deaths outnumber births. Japan’s high life expectancy only adds to this problem. To tackle labor shortages and boost the economy, the government encourages seniors and stay-at-home mothers to rejoin the workforce, resulting in a record 9.12 million elderly employees, which is over 13% of the national workforce.
Despite these efforts, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida warns that Japan is on the brink of being unable to sustain essential social functions. He emphasizes the urgent need to support childrearing, making it the government’s top priority. This demographic challenge extends to neighboring countries like China, South Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan, all grappling with similar issues of declining birth rates and an aging population. Governments in these nations are under increasing pressure to find solutions that strike a balance between the needs of an aging society and the necessity to encourage younger generations to have more children.