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Old 2012-12-19, 03:20   Link #2661
Irenicus
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Japan and much of the developed world can ramp up their food production by quite a lot. It will be costlier, and it will harm the environment in the long run, but Malthusian starvation isn't on the agenda. What primarily happened in Japan with its food production issues are two things, first is that the population decline hit the rural areas the hardest. The youth don't want to be farmers. Second is that the Japanese diet dramatically shifted over the decades from its historical basis on fish and rice and local vegetables to a much more diverse cuisine that uses ingredients from many foreign regions...to the benefit of world culture and my palate, so frankly the food survivalists can shut up on this second account, donburi banzai.

The other, far more immediate problem is that the modern capitalist model is not built to accept a long-term population downturn. That is anathema to everything it stands for. It is designed for growth, and assumes as a priori a long term trend of growth -- expanding businesses, more consumers, more workers, more taxpayers contributing into the social system -- and that means it needs a pyramidal demographic. The negative effects of a permanently contracting economy are structural and seemingly insurmountable.

Japan is thus forced by its demographic circumstances and political difficulties (the total failure of leadership, the xenophobic immigration system, and the intense difficulties facing even local "non Japanese" to assimilate and acquire citizenship, which combined means the other developed nations' solution of immigration isn't realistic) to once again pioneer something for the rest of the developed world, but this time it has to try and invent a working paradigm for stable, effective economy based on the assumption of a long term declining or hopefully stabilized population. Maybe it will work out long term, becoming a truly sustainable society, but I fear the total failure of the Japanese political leadership means that the capability and will needed to bring about changes are just not there, and that means pain, a lot of pain, while the geopolitical region it is in is increasingly competitive just as its competitiveness declines.
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Old 2012-12-19, 03:42   Link #2662
KiraYamatoFan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DonQuigleone View Post
The two most powerful political groups (far as I can see) in Japan are Nationalists and Social conservatives. Nationalists should favor pro-children policies as it means more people to enlist in armies and into industrial workforces to compete with foreign countries. Social conservatives are generally pro-family. So given Japan's conservative leanings, it should not be difficult to pass laws to encourage further child bearing. That Japan has not I find odd.
Indeed, that's very odd nothing has been done on the subject considering the political orientations of the LDP and the DPJ.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Irenicus View Post
Japan and much of the developed world can ramp up their food production by quite a lot. It will be costlier, and it will harm the environment in the long run, but Malthusian starvation isn't on the agenda. What primarily happened in Japan with its food production issues are two things, first is that the population decline hit the rural areas the hardest. The youth don't want to be farmers. Second is that the Japanese diet dramatically shifted over the decades from its historical basis on fish and rice and local vegetables to a much more diverse cuisine that uses ingredients from many foreign regions...to the benefit of world culture and my palate, so frankly the food survivalists can shut up on this second account, donburi banzai.
I don't think Japan is that close of massive starvation if the population becomes hypothetically bigger. However in adressing issues in labour force on farming lands, there has to be a way to change the system a little bit, whether it is about changing methods in food production or even hiring season workers from abroad. I know we do that with plenty of Mexicans and Guatemalans, who then return back to their respective countries when the harvesting season is over before coming back the following harvesting season. They are well enough paid BTW and usually don't bother too much about immigrating here just yet.

I read that Japan usually has good relations with Brazil, and they (Brazil) have all the manforce and expertise required in agriculture.

Quote:
The other, far more immediate problem is that the modern capitalist model is not built to accept a long-term population downturn. That is anathema to everything it stands for. It is designed for growth, and assumes as a priori a long term trend of growth -- expanding businesses, more consumers, more workers, more taxpayers contributing into the social system -- and that means it needs a pyramidal demographic. The negative effects of a permanently contracting economy are structural and seemingly insurmountable.
Germany are confronted with the exact same demographic problem considering they also have the most powerful capitalist model running right now. That's where the government put in place measures to support and even reward new families having children. Whether or not it is fully effective, it might take some time to determine. But it is worth a shot considering the situation.

Quote:
Japan is thus forced by its demographic circumstances and political difficulties (the total failure of leadership, the xenophobic immigration system, and the intense difficulties facing even local "non Japanese" to assimilate and acquire citizenship, which combined means the other developed nations' solution of immigration isn't realistic) to once again pioneer something for the rest of the developed world, but this time it has to try and invent a working paradigm for stable, effective economy based on the assumption of a long term declining or hopefully stabilized population. Maybe it will work out long term, becoming a truly sustainable society, but I fear the total failure of the Japanese political leadership means that the capability and will needed to bring about changes are just not there, and that means pain, a lot of pain, while the geopolitical region it is in is increasingly competitive just as its competitiveness declines.
Is there someone in Japan able to think out of the box and lead this country? That's the question. In any case, Japan will need someone with a revolutionary vision and soon.
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Old 2012-12-19, 03:51   Link #2663
Sumeragi
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Originally Posted by KiraYamatoFan View Post
Indeed, that's very odd nothing has been done on the subject considering the political orientations of the LDP and the DPJ.
I'll just say things have been done, but it was very ineffective.
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Old 2012-12-19, 03:59   Link #2664
KiraYamatoFan
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Originally Posted by Sumeragi View Post
I'll just say things have been done, but it was very ineffective.
Then both parties have to put more efforts in implementing something on a larger scale, use all media tools available to expose the extent of the problem, and finally turn public opinion against all companies that are blocking the process of conciliating work and family when the future is at stakes.

If it were for me, credits/rewards should be given to companies that are able to open a daycare center for the children of their employees.
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Old 2012-12-19, 04:06   Link #2665
Sumeragi
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If only life was that simple. The costs of raising kids regardless of the existence of day care are too high for the average Japanese to want to have them. It's a matter of the people not being up to the task, and not that of the government.
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Old 2012-12-19, 10:18   Link #2666
ArchmageXin
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Originally Posted by Sumeragi View Post
If only life was that simple. The costs of raising kids regardless of the existence of day care are too high for the average Japanese to want to have them. It's a matter of the people not being up to the task, and not that of the government.
That is true for any developed country, even semi-developed one like China. One large reason is cost, another reason is the fact is no longer a biological necessity. Go read about some of U.S's founding fathers who had (or were in) families of 10+ children...but rarely more than 1-2 survive to adulthood. A good old fashion flu season can kill a whole bunch....

Plus, having large families lead to the classic "welfare queen" argument anyway.
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Old 2012-12-19, 11:00   Link #2667
SeijiSensei
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Originally Posted by ArchmageXin View Post
Plus, having large families lead to the classic "welfare queen" argument anyway.
I've been looking at some data from the biennial General Social Survey. While I've been looking at gun ownership patterns, I happened to tabulate the relationship between race and family size. The differences are quite small. The "welfare queen" canard was invented by Reagan to mobilize racist whites by characterizing welfare recipients as largely made up of lazy blacks. A friend who taught social policy told me in the mid-1970s that he began every semester by pointing out that most poor are not black, and most blacks are not poor. That remains true today.
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Old 2012-12-19, 12:02   Link #2668
DonQuigleone
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Originally Posted by LeoXiao View Post
Aren't the parts that are not very populated mostly mountains? Or Hokkaido, which is damn cold and not many people want to live there (I would but I like the cold lol).
It's rural areas that aren't populated. Besides maybe Kanto (which is now entirely consumed by the Tokyo metro area), most of the countryside is quite sparse. The bigger problem in Japan is that the population is overly concentrated in just a small number of cities (namely Tokyo and the Osaka/Kyoto/Kobe metro region). I'm no expert but I'd guess that land prices in cities like Nagasaki, Fukuoka, Sendai, Hiroshima or Sapporo are more reasonable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sumeragi View Post
If only life was that simple. The costs of raising kids regardless of the existence of day care are too high for the average Japanese to want to have them. It's a matter of the people not being up to the task, and not that of the government.
I don't really get why child-rearing is so much more expensive then in other western nations. For instance in the US it's only about $12,000 a year, which, though high, is within reach of the vast majority of middle class families.
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Old 2012-12-19, 12:12   Link #2669
ArchmageXin
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Originally Posted by SeijiSensei View Post
I've been looking at some data from the biennial General Social Survey. While I've been looking at gun ownership patterns, I happened to tabulate the relationship between race and family size. The differences are quite small. The "welfare queen" canard was invented by Reagan to mobilize racist whites by characterizing welfare recipients as largely made up of lazy blacks. A friend who taught social policy told me in the mid-1970s that he began every semester by pointing out that most poor are not black, and most blacks are not poor. That remains true today.
Well~ I never said it was real, but I can imagine a similar accusation, I.E Evil Koreans and Chinese having kids in Japan and forcing Japanese pay for it.
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Old 2012-12-19, 12:14   Link #2670
willx
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@DonQuigleone -- Yeah, that's for ONE child. The discussion is talking about population growth, so 3+ kids per couple .. and let's not forget comparative differences in cost-of-living.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/graph.../daily-chart-7

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Old 2012-12-19, 13:59   Link #2671
DonQuigleone
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Originally Posted by willx View Post
@DonQuigleone -- Yeah, that's for ONE child. The discussion is talking about population growth, so 3+ kids per couple .. and let's not forget comparative differences in cost-of-living.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/graph.../daily-chart-7
Even two kids would be only 24k, still affordable to most middle class couples. It's a far cry from the 35k per kid per year in Japan. In fact, for one kid in Japan, you could have three in the USA.
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Old 2012-12-19, 14:08   Link #2672
willx
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Originally Posted by DonQuigleone View Post
Even two kids would be only 24k, still affordable to most middle class couples. It's a far cry from the 35k per kid per year in Japan. In fact, for one kid in Japan, you could have three in the USA.
Right, but we're talking about Japan here. Heck, even those USA numbers are understated. Read your own link. That amount is just for food, shelter and other necessities. Raising kids costs a lot more than that due to "non-necessities" .. especially in "affluent modern nations" ..

Look at those numbers and adjust them for "non-essentials" and then apply an additional cost-of-living modifier depending on jurisdiction. Then multiply that by 3 kids. Then add on costs related to the cost of living of the parents themselves. This also wouldn't account for things such as: non-linearity of housing costs for larger family sizes, private tuition costs (private school? cram school? study guides?) and anything else that I've missed.

I remember a study done a few years (decades?) ago that showed couples with college education and higher and were more firmly "middle" or "upper middle" class were less likely to have children or more than one child than the "very rich" and the "lower class" -- the "very rich" could afford the costs and the "lower class" had income assistance .. (as well as simply not being educated and aware.)

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Old 2012-12-19, 14:25   Link #2673
DonQuigleone
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Originally Posted by willx View Post
Right, but we're talking about Japan here. Heck, even those USA numbers are understated. Read your own link. That amount is just for food, shelter and other necessities. Raising kids costs a lot more than that due to "non-necessities" .. especially in "affluent modern nations" ..

Look at those numbers and adjust them for "non-essentials" and then apply an additional cost-of-living modifier depending on jurisdiction. Then multiply that by 3 kids. Then add on costs related to the cost of living of the parents themselves. This also wouldn't account for things such as: non-linearity of housing costs for larger family sizes, private tuition costs (private school? cram school? study guides?) and anything else that I've missed.
On the flip side, there are also income savings, like hand me downs, and most people(90%+) don't go to private school or go for tutoring/cram school. Also, at later ages many of the "personal non-essential" items can be paid for by the children themselves (by working part time jobs).

My own family of 4 lived quite comfortable with my father earning on average 60-80k over the course of his career(my mother was a housewife), and my sister and I attended private school (but no tutoring). In addition our house got burnt down in a fire. However private schools in Ireland are partially subsidized.

However we had the advantage that my mother did not work, which resulted in many cost savings (no day care for one thing). My mother did some part time work as we got older. We also got some loans from grandparents at certain times(around that fire in particular).

Even in recession Ireland has high fertility rates (if anything they've gone up...). I don't know why Ireland is like this, maybe we just live more economically.

However, college tuition does change the cost balance quite a bit, but then I have my doubts that college as it is now will continue into the future (that's a conversation for another thread though).
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Old 2012-12-19, 15:01   Link #2674
willx
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^ Sounds like you had a decent childhood and the grandparents help/support during a time of crisis is fantastic. I actually grew up in an incredibly impoverished household and was an only child, so I'm not even sure how much I personally "cost to raise" ..

Anecdotally, one of my affluent colleagues has two boys and his costs right now include $35K a year on private school. This doesn't include hockey gear and other extracurricular costs. Obviously children of higher income individuals cost more to raise..

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Old 2012-12-19, 15:19   Link #2675
KiraYamatoFan
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Originally Posted by ArchmageXin View Post
That is true for any developed country, even semi-developed one like China. One large reason is cost, another reason is the fact is no longer a biological necessity.
Then somebody must be behind those high costs, don't you think? As I mentioned earlier, the farm lobby is acting like a cartel and they are IMO largely responsible for the high prices on food when lowering tariffs on imports would solve a part of the issue on food costs. Tell me this is unacceptable for a country expecting to grow; that's why I believe that, for the good of everyone in Japan, someone has to axe the farm lobby and lower those bloody import tariffs soon.

About housing, high costs are unavoidable because of limited surface area to live on. I don't think we can debate on that. However about anything else... high prices are there because apparently no one in the past watched to make sure costs would not have such bad impacts in the long term. Meanwhile, why do you think many people in Germany, France, United States and Canada are consistently on the watch on pricing for anything? Of course, it's getting more expensive to live in Canada than it was in the past, but we have our share of experts counselling authorities on how to make sure prices on goods and salaries/wages go up hand in hand.

With South Korea electing a woman today, perhaps it's time Japan elects a woman (preferably in her late 40s) as Prime Minister and hope she would be more sensible about the improvements required for the country's social situation.
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Old 2012-12-19, 16:47   Link #2676
Sumeragi
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KiraYamatoFan, you've missed the most important cost: That of education. If anything, that single cost weights everything else down. It might be you're used to your region's relatively "cheap" educational costs. That's not the case in Japan or Korea.
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Old 2012-12-19, 17:17   Link #2677
KiraYamatoFan
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Originally Posted by Sumeragi View Post
KiraYamatoFan, you've missed the most important cost: That of education. If anything, that single cost weights everything else down. It might be you're used to your region's relatively "cheap" educational costs. That's not the case in Japan or Korea.
Instead of pinpointing this or that as a major factor, I only say that someone in Japan acted as a very bad advisor/counselor in how to make sure salaries and prices should go up hand in hand. In other words, one person or a group of people missed the global picture some time ago. Prices went up while completely forgetting about how much people earn, doesn't that feel wrong somewhere?

I'm all for paying more money to receive quality education and do whatever it takes to put high education standards at the level of Germany's. Meanwhile, there are several costs that could be cut elsewhere if that can take off some of the parents' fiscal burden. If some costs are more difficult to cut down, one suggestion would be to axe something major such as the farm lobby which takes everyone hostage by requesting high food import tariffs and thus hold high prices on food.

The moral of the story, however, is that some sort of revolution must be sparked by a few people or by an angry populace in order to get rid of the old farts taking down the country down with them because they don't even know they are past their expiry date.

edit: I found 2 links proposing interesting solutions in various areas. If the old farts in power can't see the goods in proceeding with such proposed changes, they are as good as to be sent into retirement without pension.

http://savingjapan.net/2010/10/17/lo...ng-population/

http://www.nri.co.jp/english/opinion.../np2010150.pdf

I know I shouldn't be as passionate as I am since I have no Japanese relatives, but I just love this country too much to sit and watch its march towards downfall.
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Last edited by KiraYamatoFan; 2012-12-19 at 17:37.
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Old 2012-12-19, 17:46   Link #2678
LeoXiao
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Don't worry, the "old farts" will be gone in ten or twenty years.
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Old 2012-12-19, 17:51   Link #2679
KiraYamatoFan
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Originally Posted by LeoXiao View Post
Don't worry, the "old farts" will be gone in ten or twenty years.
That's one way to see it. Still, I'd feel more relieved if they get the boot and are forced into the "walk of shame" at the expense of politicians with revolutionary/contemporary ideas now instead of letting them run in circles for another decade to make things worse.
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Old 2012-12-19, 18:30   Link #2680
Sumeragi
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You know, strangely enough I worry about Quebec more than I worry about Japan.
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