The authorities are focusing on keeping the centre alive
WILD BOARS ARE TAKING OVER JAPAN AS POPULATION AGES, DISAPPEARS
Japan’s government is considering a new way to get people to consider life outside Tokyo: Pay them to leave.
As people slowly leave some Japanese towns and cities, wild boars are
coming in to replace them.
United States 美国
THE snow accumulating on the Japan Alps is a reminder of the unforgiving winters in the city of Toyama. Kazuko Onagawa, at 87 years old, is unfazed. Lithe and trim, she power-walks around a swimming pool in the Kadokawa Preventative Care Centre. After she dries off she may drop into the gym, rehabilitation room or massage parlour. A doctor is permanently on site in case she or her friends overdo it. “I’m fit for my age,” she smiles.“Winters don’t worry me.”
As the country’s aging population gradually dies, wild boars are filling
the void, lured by rice paddies without human supervision and the
hospitable landscape—where they find plenty of shelter and not enough
people to deter them from coming. What used to be a problem just in
southern Japan, with boar sightings and occasional attacks on humans,
has blossomed into an issue for the entire country, according to a
report in The Washington Post.
In the United States, the fertility rate has reached a record low of 1.76. The fertility rate in the United States fell to an all-time low last year. Americans' average life expectancy, meanwhile, sits at a relatively high 78.7 years.
According to a report by national broadcaster NHK on Nov. 22, the government is mulling giving as much as 3 million yen to people who decide to relocate from the 23 wards of Tokyo and find jobs elsewhere, starting in the next fiscal year.
About 30% of Toyama’s 418,000 residents are 65 or older, an even higher proportion than in Japan as a whole, where itis 27% (see chart). By 2025, the proportion in Toyama is projected to be 32%.In addition to greying, the population is also declining. The city had 421,000 people in 2005; by 2025, it will have 390,000.
Japan’s population has grown older in recent years: Estimates from the
United Nations Population Division indicate that about 35 percent of the
country was least 65 years old in 2017. And the agency projects that the
problem will only get worse, and seniors will make up roughly half the
country by 2050.
unfazed: not confused, worried, or shocked by something that has happened
This goes against the worldwide pattern, in which people younger than 65
make up the large majority of the population, both now and in projected
numbers for 2050.
Many experts say the 2008 economic recession and high college tuition are contributing to this trend.
Tokyo and the greater metropolitan area surrounding the capital, with a total population of some 38 million, have long bucked the trend in Japan when it comes to demographics, even as Japan’s overall population shrinks. That’s often been at the cost of other cities.
parlour: a store or businenss that sells a specified kind of food or service
Japan has a wild boar problem, as depopulation from natural disasters
and aging leaves room for the wild animals. Above, three boars were
killed in an evacuated residential area near the Fukushima nuclear
According to a 2018 survey in?The New York Times, however, adults who want kids say they sometimes end up having few, or zero, kids due to the high cost of childcare. The average cost of full-time childcare exceeds $10,000 a year in several states, according to Child Care Aware of America.
Tokyo and the prefectures of Chiba, Kanagawa, and Saitama posted significant population growth in 2017. According to NHK, the number of people moving to Tokyo has exceeded the number moving out for 22 years and counting. Nearly one out of every three people in Japan lives in the Tokyo area.
Wild boars, also known as Eurasian wild pigs, have moved in to supplant
the shrinking population. In the Iwate Prefecture, authorities caught 94
boars last year, The Washington Post reported. That’s up from just two
caught in 2011.
As the population ages and shrinks, the services residents need have changed. The Kadokawa Centre, for example, is built on the site of a primary school that closed in 2004. But overhauling public services is costly, and the declining number of people of working age means there is ever less tax revenue to help pay for the shift. To remain solvent, the city has decided to shrink not just in population, but in size, concentrating residents and services in the centre.
On top of aging, Japan’s northern stretches have also faced depopulation
linked to the Fukushima nuclear plant meltdown and the tsunami that
destroyed coastal areas—both events related to a devastating earthquake
in 2011, as The Washington Post points out.
The US birth rate has remained below "replacement level" since the 1970s, which means not enough children are being born to keep the population at a steady level.
The government added that as more people leave other major cities such as Sendai and Sapporo in the north of Japan for Tokyo, it will encourage people to relocate to those places, for example through tax benefits.
Most of Japan is in a similar quandary.About 400 schools shut every year; some are being converted into retirement homes. In 2016 there were 300,000 more deaths than births. If Japan continues on its present course, it will have shed nearly a third of its population (and four out of every ten workers) by the time Mrs Onagawa’s grandchildren retire in 2065.
All of this, plus warmer temperatures and less snow, make the conditions
right for wild boars.
solvent: able to pay debts
“Because of depopulation, there are more and more abandoned fields and
rice paddies,” a Tokyo University wildlife management professor, Koichi
Kaji, told the publication. “They’re perfect places for wild boars to
hide and feed.”
Last year, the US Census Bureau wrote in a paper that women who have kids between the ages of 25 and 35 have more difficulty in getting fair pay than women who give birth outside of that range. American women are now having children older than ever.
One prefecture that saw a population increase last year is the industrial hub of Aichi in central Japan, which experienced an influx of foreign migrant labor. Every prefecture in Japan except for Nagasaki posted a rise in the number of foreigners last year. Only the Okinawa prefecture experienced a population increase due to the number of births exceeding the number of deaths.
quandary: a situation in which you are confused about what to do
The authorities want farmers to get licenses for guns and traps to help
reduce the animal population, but many are too old to help in that
Japan’s government has for decades tried to lure people away from the capital and help rebuild depopulated and dilapidated areas, in a program broadly known as “revitalization of regions”. Some local governments have used tax cuts to encourage companies to leave the Tokyo area, while others will subsidize relocation costs.
Super Monster Wolf
Japan will not accept mass immigration, says Masashi Mori, the mayor of Toyama. Efforts to raise the birth rate have had little success, although there are a few exceptions. The only alternative is to learn to live with far fewer people. That implies great upheaval, which Toyama hopes to minimise.
Some people are getting creative, including designing a robotic but
realistic-looking wolf known as the Super Monster Wolf that is meant to
scare off the boars.
Spain has more deaths than births each year, and some towns are already nearly abandoned.
One island in the Seto Inland Sea crowdfunded money to repurpose an old house into accommodation for new arrivals, and managed to attract a few newcomers, according to the?Japan Times. The central government has even considered relocating some of Tokyo’s rapidly growing elderly population outside of the capital.
The city’s first focus has been public transport. Old people who don’t get out and about tend to be less healthy and need more help. But buses can be daunting even for the relatively spry. At any rate, the number of passengers on the city’s buses fell from 40,000 a day in1995 to 17,000 in 2012. The cost of nursing care, meanwhile, has risen by 21% since
- The solution, the city government decided, was to build a tram system that is easy for old people to use, and to encourage them to live close to it. It used mainly existing train lines and second-hand rolling stock to keep costs down. There are no barriers in the stations and no steps up onto the trams, to make them easy for frailer passengers to use. Those aged 65 and over can buy a discounted ticket to go anywhere on the network for ¥100 ($0.90). The number of passengers using the city’s trains more than doubled when the first refurbished line was opened in 2006; the number of passengers in their 70s rose by more than three times.
Spanish women tend to give birth later in life than most other European women, and Spaniards also live longer than anyone else in the European Union. On average, women in Spain have 1.5 children.
There is, in fact, a growing trend of young Tokyo-dwellers who want to leave behind urban life in the capital to move to smaller, cheaper, and quieter parts of Japan. And some areas are enjoying success in attracting people and businesses to leave Tokyo, such as Fukuoka, a mid-sized city in Kyushu which has seen a large influx of tech workers and start-ups, drawn to the city’s lower costs and proximity to talent and markets in other parts of Asia.
upheaval: a major change or period of change that causes a lot of conflict, confusion, anger, etc.
spry: full of life and energy. used especially to describe an older person
In Spain's northeastern Aragon region, one village already shows what a demographic time bomb can look like. The only remaining residents of La Estrella are two people in their 80s.
The small ski town of Niseko in Hokkaido is also enjoying a small increase in population, thanks to an explosion of interest overseas in Japan’s ski slopes. But with Japan’s vast government bureaucracy, its top schools, as well as companies all concentrated in Tokyo, escaping the capital looks set to remain a pipe dream for most.
The city government subsidises both the construction and the purchase of new housing within 500m of one of the new tram stops, and rents out several properties itself. It also pays two-thirds of the cost of running the Kadokawa Centre, and offers further grants for those opening facilities catering to old people within the city centre. The elderly are given free admission to museums and the zoo, provided they bring a grandchild with them. The city even subsidises the wages of old people hired by local firms.
Last year, the Spanish government hired a special commissioner to determine how to reverse falling birth rates.
The result of all this has been that the population of the city centre is rising, even as that of the rest of the city falls. The centre is now home to 37% of residents, up from 28% in 2005. By 2025 the city government hopes the proportion will be 42%. The boom in the centre has brought new shops and other businesses, helping to stabilise tax revenues. The cost of providing municipal services has fallen, says the mayor, who is in his fourth term. As he puts it: “We want a small city for old people to live comfortably and happily.”
A rise in immigration to Italy has not helped the country steer clear of becoming a demographic time bomb.
A record-low 464,000 children were born in Italy last year, and the country's mean age has surpassed 45 for the first time ever.
Lexile®Measure: 1000L - 1100L
Many Italians want to have two or more children,?The Local?reported, but cite difficulties in finding employment as a factor in their decisions not to.
Mean Sentence Length: 15.17
Mean Log Word Frequency: 3.45
Word Count: 713
The population of Bulgaria, the European Union's poorest member, may soon become as low as it was in the aftermath of World War II, Bloomberg reported.
Bulgaria's population is shrinking faster than any other country in the world; it is expected to hit only 5.4 million in 2050, down from 7 million last year, according to Quartz.
In addition, the country has seen an increase in emigration as citizens seek job opportunities elsewhere. Bulgaria's fertility rate is only 1.46 children per woman.
Since Latvia joined the European Union in 2004, nearly 20 percent of the country's population has left to seek employment in other parts of the bloc, such as Germany and the United Kingdom.
Latvia's population, reported to be nearly 2 million last year, is estimated to fall to 1.52 million by 2050, according to Quartz.
South Korea 韩国
The South Korean government has offered cash incentives to people who have more than one child, as the fertility rate currently sits at 1.26 children per woman – too low to maintain a stable population.
Amid the declining fertility rates, some South Koreans have said they are not having children due to a lack of financial stability, according to Quartz.
Demographers say South Korea's low fertility rate is linked to women having children at an increasingly later age. In 2017, the average age of a Korean woman having a first child surpassed 31. It was the oldest average in the world.
Unlike other countries with similarly low fertility rates, Japan has not seen a significant influx of immigrants. A low number of workers in the country decreases the amount of tax money going toward retirement and healthcare services for older residents, who are growing in numbers.
United Kingdom 英国
The United Kingdom's birth rate has fallen to its lowest level in a dozen years,?The Times?reported. At the same time, the number of British residents age 65 or older is rising due to better healthcare and higher living standards.
The UK's referendum to leave the European Union has led to a decrease in the number of immigrants, who are generally younger, leading to an increasingly older population.
According to?The Guardian, the number of elderly people without social care has peaked, with one in seven lacking adequate support. About 1.4 million residents who are older than 65 are not receiving help with getting up or getting washed.
Singapore's fertility rate, 0.83, is the lowest in the world.
A 2017 report by the Singapore-based United Overseas Bank suggests that the country is on a similar path as Japan. In 2017, for the first time in modern Singapore's history, the percentage of people who were 65 years old or older was equal to the share of residents younger than 15.
China's fertility rate keeps dropping despite the government's 2016 decision to allow families to have two children instead of one, so local authorities are taking steps to encourage more childbirth.
About 25 percent of China's population is expected to be 60 years or older by 2030, a significant increase compared to the roughly 13 percent of residents who were part of that age bracket in 2010.