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Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

Will Greens Applaud Japan’s Demographic Implosion?



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Radical environmentalists, deep ecologists, and other assorted “greens” yearn for there to be far fewer people in the world “to save the planet.” Having been infected with anti-humanism, the Green Malthusians see us as “bacteria,” a “scourge,” crawling “maggots”–pick your denigration–a profoundly misanthropic view increasingly entering the environmental mainstream in recent years.

Achieving that goal will either require a profound genocidal tyranny, or a deeply nihilistic cultural implosion. China’s “one child” policy exemplifies the former–and the numbers of people there are still growing, albeit more slowly.

Japan, whose youth are apparently in the grip of a profound existential crisis, exemplifies the latter. From The World story:

The Japanese now have one of the lowest fertility rates in the world, and at the same time, one of the highest longevity rates. As a result, the population is dropping rapidly, and becoming increasingly weighted toward older people. After peaking seven years ago, at 128 million, Japan’s population has been falling — and is on a path to decline by about a million people a year.

By 2060, the government estimates, there will be just 87 million people in Japan; nearly half of them will be over 65. Without a dramatic change in either the birthrate or its restrictive immigration policies, Japan simply won’t have enough workers to support its retirees, and will enter a demographic death spiral.

Here is the point I am trying to get across in this post: “Demographic death spiral” precisely describes the future that the Green Malthusians want for the entire world.

Why Japan? Apparently the new generation is depressed and/or reluctant to settle down:

There clearly is a subset of Japanese youth who have withdrawn from dating. Instead, they focus on online porn and games like Nintendo’s Love Plus, in which players conduct a relationship with an anime girlfriend.

Hundreds of thousands of young men are known as hikikomori, shut-ins who eschew human contact and spend their days playing video games and reading comics in their parents’ homes. (See below.) But most Japanese young people do have friends and relationships — they’re just not settling down.

There are economic causes too:

Left to their own devices, Japanese men aren’t sure how to find wives — and many are shying away from the hunt, because they simply can’t afford it. Wages have stagnated since the 1990s, while housing prices have shot up. A young Japanese man has good reason to believe that his standard of living would drop immensely if he had to house and support a wife and children — especially considering that his wife likely wouldn’t be working.

In Japan, marriage usually ends a woman’s working career, even though most women are well educated. Once they have a child, women face strong social pressure to quit their jobs and assume very traditional roles, serving both the husband and the child. Mothers who want to keep working are stigmatized and usually find that employers won’t hire them.

Japan’s existential crisis isn’t about environmentalism. But we should look at the serious demographic problems afficting that society as a reason not to follow the ongoing green “War on Humans.”



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