Economic Focus – Japan

Japan’s US$ 4.3 trillion economy is far ahead of China’s US$ 2.7 trillion one. Yet a closer look at Japan reveals an economy in depression, the weakening Yen, hordes of homeless people and accelerating crime rates. The latest on the list; people selling their organs to put food on the table.

Adding oil to the fire is Japan’s rapidly aging population which has risen from 4.9 percent in the 1950s to 10.3 percent in 1985 to the recent 21.5 in 2007. The surge in the elderly community will incur huge costs in terms of overburdened pension and health-care systems. Some projections say that by 2050, 42 percent of Japanese would be age 60 and older.

Nevertheless, Japan is adapting. One in three Japanese aged 60 or over is still part of the labour force. UN predictions state that by 2050, nearly a third of the developed world’s labor force will be aged 50 or older. Welcome to the land of the elderly.

Source: News Strait Times, Times Magazine

Facts – BBC

  • Full name: Japan
  • Population: 128 million (UN, 2007)
  • Capital: Tokyo
  • Area: 377,864 sq km (145,894 sq miles)
  • Major language: Japanese
  • Major religions: Shintoism, Buddhism
  • Life expectancy: 79 years (men), 86 years (women) (UN)
  • Monetary unit: yen
  • Main exports: Vehicles, computer parts, chemicals, scientific instruments and watches
  • GNI per capita: US $38,980 (World Bank, 2006)
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