With the increase in life expectancy and low birth-rates, the population of Japan is rapidly aging. Now more than 23% of the population is over 65, and this number is projected to grow to 40% in 2050. This is a huge number, and if combined with sluggish economic growth, will create a “headache” regarding the already-strained government budget. As of 2011, Japan’s public debt was already 200% of its annual GDP. If the population grays further, less tax revenue and increasing pension fund will eventually crush the Japanese government budget.
Therefore some ideas were put forward to prevent this happening. One way is to maintain tax revenue which can cover the pension fund. The ideas include opening the immigration faucet for foreign workers. In my opinion, however, considering the conservative nature of most Japanese people, Japan will just try to open the faucet selectively. Thus another option is to encourage more Japanese women to participate in the work-force.
Personally I think that empowerment of women is a good approach to move the wheel of nation’s economy and productivity. However, there are some consequences of this approach worth considering. One consequence to mention is regarding the roles of husbands and wives. Since both are working, husbands should help more on the household works and also child-raising. Indeed the concept of marriage, that is sharing the happiness and sadness together, should be well absorbed in the couple’s minds. But how if their jobs are really time-demanding? More child-care centers should be established in the vicinity. Since many children are taken care by just several staffs, thus this is in-line with Japanese spirit of efficiency, besides of course creating more jobs for child-care staffs and education. Alternatively, children can be cared by their already retired grandparents, thus creating a closed-loop of tax revenue vs. increasing pension. I am sure many grandparents are more than happy to take care of their grandchildren.
But lastly, still one very important thing is that parents must spend a considerable amount of time, attention, and affection for their children. By having affection, children will appreciate the value of happy family, and when grown-up, will more likely to get married and having children as well. This will help alleviate the low birth-rate problem in Japan.