Happy Waitangi Day everyone! For those of you unfamiliar with the celebration, it is a public holiday here in New Zealand, commemorating the day in 1840 when the Treaty of Waitangi (Te Tiriti o Waitangi) was signed between certain Maori chiefs in Northland and the British Crown. This paved the way for New Zealand to become a British colony and is widely considered to be New Zealand’s founding document. The Treaty is still of immense importance to New Zealand today as both Parliament and the Courts have had, since the 1970s, regard to the “principles” of the Treaty of Waitangi when enacting or interpreting legislation. What these “principles” are is another matter, and unfortunately Waitangi Day is not only a day off here, but also a day when political grievances are aired and protests occur (particularly up at the marae, or meeting house, where the Treaty was signed).

Anyway, the upshot of all that is that today is a day off for us and it is an absolutely stunning day here! So we are off for a walk with little Thomas soon to get some Vitamin D and only have time for a short post. I thought I’d share with you this article about Japan which I received from a dutiful reader. Its content is really nothing that we haven’t discussed before on this blog, but some of the numbers are really quite astounding:

“According to the United Nations, every hour of the day and night there are thirty less Japanese in the world. By the end of this year, there will be 200,000 less, and by the year 2050, Japan will have lost nearly a quarter of its population.”

Why is this happening? Because the Japanese have stopped having babies:

“Japan’s population was the first in the world to dip beneath replacement fertility fully half a century ago (in 1960), and its [total fertility rate] has continued to plunge. It now stands at an astonishing 1.1 children per woman (half that required for replacement), and will continue to decline to 0.6 children per woman by 2050.

When women stop having babies, the result is unavoidable , the nation’s population briefly peaks, then declines. Japan’s population reached a maximum of 126.5 million two years ago, and is now one million less. This trend will accelerate until the nation is losing a million people a year.”

The result is a declining population, and that declining population made up of fewer children and more old people:

“The number of Japanese children under 15 has declined for thirty consecutive years, from 24% of the population to its current 13%. Japan now has [fewer] children than it did a century ago, in large part to the forty million abortions it has suffered since it legalized the practice under the Eugenic Protection Law in 1949.

The number of people over 65 has increased for sixty consecutive years, from a mere five percent of the population in 1952 to its current 23%, and is projected to increase to 43% by 2050. Japan is currently the oldest nation in the world, with an average age of 45, and this will increase to an incredible 60 years old by 2050.

Thus, Japan has the greatest percentage of people over 65 of any nation in the world, and the lowest percentage of children under 15 of any nation in the world.”

Economically, this means that there will be fewer workers for each dependant (by 2050 it is predicted that each Japanese worker will have to support one dependant!) and public spending will be consumed by an elderly population – by 2025 “70% of government spending will be consumed by debt service and social security spending”. With the economy stagnating, people put off getting married and having children, thus exacerbating the problem.  Although Japanese lawmakers have recognised the problem and tried to get women to have more babies it since at least 1995, the population decline has continued. Why is this? The article has an interesting conclusion, one that could be applied throughout much of the world today:

“…once you get people addicted to things and tell them for decades that babies are a burden, that they interfere with your wants and your needs, and they are bad for the environment, your nation is doomed. No nation in history has recovered from a total fertility rate as low as Japan’s…Worldwide demographic trends have the momentum of a supertanker. The world’s total fertility rate will hit replacement in just two years. Its population will peak in only three decades and then begin to decline.”

Something to mull over this Waitangi Day.

Marcus Roberts is a Senior Researcher at the Maxim Institute in Auckland, New Zealand, and was co-editor of the former MercatorNet blog, Demography is Destiny. Marcus has a background in the law, both...