Japan: Greying Nation

Twenty years after the UN convened its first World Assembly on Ageing, delegates are gathering this month in Madrid to address what is becoming a very pressing issue. Nowhere is it more serious than in Japan.

The World Today
4 minute READ

Hugh Cortazzi

Japan, like Germany before the Second World War, complained about the pressures of a growing population. The government sought outlets overseas for the country’s surplus and feared that, without colonies, Japan could not sustain its increasing numbers. At the end of the war, large numbers of Japanese from Manchuria and other parts of Asia returned to find industry largely destroyed and agriculture at little more than subsistence level. As the economy recovered, farm productivity improved and the agricultural population declined.

Urbanisation and better standards of living were accompanied by a baby boom. From some 71 million in 1940, the Japanese population grew to over 100 million by 1970 and, by the end of the century, over 125 million.

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