By Amitava Mukherjee
Japan is now in the focus of intertiol news. And this time it is for a wrong and alarming reason. No, it is not due to the mecingly developing situation in the Asia-Pacific region where Japan has become a willing partner to the anti-Chi axis that the US is trying to build up. On the contrary Japan is being devoured from within by a strange phenomenon- growing lack of sexual urge among its virile population leading to a threatening population shrinkage. This has prompted Hiroya Masuda, author of a best seller med Local Extinctions, to conclude that 896 cities,towns and villages of Japan may become extinct by 2040.
This is quite probable because according to Japan government's own estimate Japan will lose one third of its present population of 128 million people by 2060. The same year is likely to witness an increase in the ratio of elderly people, 65 years and above, to 39.9 percent which is only 24.1 percent at present. In 2010 the respective percentages of unmarried men and women around 50 years were 20.1 percent and 10.6 percent of the total population. In 2035, not far away from now, the figures are likely to jump up to a level of 29 percent and 19.2 percent.
Shinzo Abe, the prime minister of Japan, is now faced with a real existential threat and he has vowed not to allow the population fall below 100 millions in the long run. Although the United tions is not very hopeful about the success of Shinzo Abe's plans yet the prime minister of Japan is determined to enhance the birth rate per woman to at least 1.8 which is 1.4 now.
But the great impediment before Shinzo Abe's action plan is the fact that the Japanese people seem to have lost the urge of mating. Probable reasons for it are too much workloads, fatigue and very little social security which have resulted in men and women losing the will to procreate. This is the price Japan is now paying for adopting a high end capitalist development policy.
Maternity security system is very poor in Japan and as a result 70 percent of women leave their jobs after the birth of their first child. Starting a family is becoming less and less attractive for Japanese women and as Japan has still a very conservative society steeped in age old values where only 2 percent babies are born outside wedlock, the result of a recent survey by Japan's tiol Institute of Population and Social Security Research(NIPSSR) that 90 percent of Japanese women want to stay single has not come as a surprise.
But more shocking revelations are there. According to a recent survey by the Japan Family Planning Association(JFPA) 46 percent women in the age group 16-25 years are not interested in sex at all. As per another survey of the NIPSSR 68 percent of Japanese women in the age group 18-19 years have no sex experience. Similar is the situation for 40 percent women in the age group 20-24 years. Only 29.3 percent women who fall between 25-29 years have tasted sex and the corresponding figure for women between 30-34 years is 23.8 percent.
Building up of a healthy society always demands leisure for its workforce. Japan is moving just the opposite way.Its men and women tire themselves out at their workplaces from 9AM to 5PM. Then they have to slog out the customary two hour overtimes till 7PM. After that there are another two hours of socialization. So when they come back to their homes they are totally exhausted.
It is really strange that sex, a part and parcel of a normal human being's life, is now heavily disfavoured by a large section of the Japanese people. 21.3 percent men and 17.8 percent women do not indulge in sex due to fatigue while 23.8 percent women consider sex as bothersome. Among men 15.7 percent look upon it as unnecessary after the birth of their first child.
The peculiarity of the scerio lies in the fact that Japan is witnessing this existential crisis in an era of peace and richness prevailing over the tion. If this rate of population decrease continues then 30 percent of Tokyo's population will be wiped off by 2050. This should not surprise anybody as very little additions to Japan's population are taking place. According to the Health,Labour and Welfare ministries of the country only 10 lakh babies were born in 2014.
If Shinzo Abe wants to protect his country from a spectre of oblivion then he may emulate the example of post second world war Russia which could make good the loss of virile population in the war by providing various incentives for family life and rearing of children. Abe has made one thing clear- he is not going to encourage immigration for covering up the continuous decrease in population. So he has no other way but to popularize the institution of marriage at a time when 86 percent men and 89 percent women surveyed give out that they ' intend to marry someday', a clear pointer to their disinclition to marry. Similarly important will be increased maternity benefits.
( Amitava Mukherjee is a senior jourlist and commentator)