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betsujin




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Major in Asian Studies with a concentration on Japan, studied at a Japanese University for a year, lived and worked there for a few years, and I work in banking so I keep up on the economic news. It's one of the few subjects I can speak somewhat intelligently about for long periods of time without totally embarrassing myself. :-)

In general, yes. Actual studies in English are hard to come by, but here's one that actually goes in depth and shows breakdowns by age and region.

Here's a more recent survey that shows a slim majority actually support increasing immigration, despite a vast majority (76%) saying that it would lead to at least somewhat more crime.

Overall, though, Japan has backed itself into a situation where it's going to have to choose a path that will upset a substantial portion of the population, be that increased immigration, increased taxes or austerity. It's currently going with the middle option, but an increase in consumption tax isn't going to solve their woes.

It mostly consists of sticking their head in the sand and pretending the problems don't exist. :-)

Not really, but it seems that way sometimes. The overall plan is called "Abenomics", named after the current prime minister who put the plan together. The Council on Foreign Relations does a decent job on covering the major points and has a good additional resource list to boot.

In short, though, it's a three pronged approach. There was a stimulus package, which really didn't stimulate much, quantitative easing with a target of 2% inflation, which has only caused small bumps of inflation followed by more deflation and increases in public debt, and structural reforms, for which there is little real political appetite.

There have also been some laughable attempts to attract more foreign skilled workers, but again, there's little political will to fix the issue. Honestly, at this point, I don't know if even a massive wave of immigration would be enough to save the country. They should have been focusing on small groups that could be integrated into society starting decades ago, but foreigners are still the big scary other in Japan. This is despite the rather low occurance of foreign crime there.

In summary, too little, too late and without the political or social will to really make much of a difference at this point.

Agreed, and I think it's something we'll see more Japanese companies do in the coming years as I don't know how their economy can continue to support massive international companies.

Here are various depressing graphics around growth (or lack thereof), debt and population. Here is (another depressing) report from the IMF about the projected health care costs (>15% of GDP by 2030), which combined with the previous information really doesn't paint a pretty picture for the future.

Interesting. They're one of a few Japanese companies that have taken this step. Bridgestone did the same back in 2013. Fast Company (owner of Uniqlo), did the same in 2012, and the president doesn't mince any words about it in the interview. Rakuten took it to extremes and declared that any employees without improved English abilities in 3 years would be fired. There was some attrition, but overall it seems to have met with success.

For a country with declining English skills, I'd say this is a very brave push by these companies, but also very necessary if they want to attract top international talent (which they will need with that rapidly declining population). And necessary for Fast Company and Rakuten if they want to expand outside of Japan, for the same reasons.

For the younger generations, I think it's a little more complex than being obsessed with work and tech.

For those that grew up in the bubble years, a large number of men seem to be looking for someone to take their mother's role. Someone who will be home when they get back from work, have dinner ready, the house clean, kids in bed and a hot bath ready - the stereotypical 50s housewife in American terms. More and more Japanese women don't want this - they want a career and to be on equal terms with their husbands. They also face little to no financial pressure to marry since a large portion of single Japanese people live rent free with their parents until marriage, so they have a rather large disposable income to do what they would like, either alone or with friends.

For the "millennial" Japanese, they have many of the same problems that generation sees in America - a lack of jobs. Japanese companies have moved away from the lifetime employment that used to be the norm, and more and more jobs are contract or part-time work. Especially for young men, there is an enormous amount of pressure to get a full-time company job like their father has, and when they can't meet this expectation there is a tendency to withdraw socially.

Combine both of these with the a culture that's still fairly bound in tradition and hasn't really accepted women's rights as a whole, and it's not really that surprising that women aren't just jumping to give up their careers to get married and have kids.

With that being said, most Japanese people still want to get married (somewhat older survey, admittedly), and Japanese people are having sex.

Japanese people definitely aren't having children, but this is more of a developed country problem than a Japanese problem. If you look at birth rate by country, Japan is one of the lowest, but depending on which data set you look at, Germany is lower, and that's with a much higher immigration rate that should help that figure go up. However, no one seems fixated on the idea that Germans aren't having sex.

Look at fertility rate by country. Per the CIA Factbook, South Korea is at 1.25 to Japan's 1.42, but no one seems focused on the end of South Korea as we know it.

Wacky Japan sells; panty vending machines, hikikomori, rabbits on leashes - we've built up an image of this weird place that is so different than what we're used to, and it's easy to type up a quick story on a slow news day. The truth is, it's not so different than anywhere else in the west if we weren't allowing a fair amount of immigration.

betsujin  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: The Death Penalty in Louisiana

Having grown up in Louisiana, I can say this piece is rather spot on about the courts and culture there. There is very much a feeling that you're not living in a modern, cultured democracy there but rather a medieval theocracy with plumbing and semi-paved roads. From a criminal perspective, there is very little focus put on rehabilitation. Everything is focused on the punishment aspect.

When I was in junior high, I went on a field trip to Angola. It wasn't one of those scared straight type of programs... honestly, I don't know what the point was. It was billed as some sort of reward for well performing students.

We toured the grounds, were showed the old electric chair like it was some sort of totem, and met some of the inmates. I talked to a few of them about their sentences, and it was telling what the state considers as real crime in my opinion. One was in for attempted murder. 15 years, would probably be out in less than 10. Another had been arrested for dealing marijuana. Life sentence. Of course I have no idea about anything surrounding the crimes, and my young-teen aged self never even thought to ask, but from what I've seen since then drugs are typically viewed as worse than violence for some reason.

The truly sad thing is that I don't see the state getting better any time soon. The education budget is continuously cut, poverty is endemic, racism is not even hidden in a depressingly large number of communities, and the people continuously vote against their own interests in the name of social conservatism.

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