Elon Musk’s tweet sparked a debate in Japan over falling birth rates Japan

Elon Musk warned that Japan would “cease to exist” unless it tackled falling birth rates, prompting calls for the country to allow more immigration and improve work-life balance.

“At the risk of stating the obvious, unless something changes to make the birth rate exceed the death rate, Japan will eventually cease to exist. This would be a great loss for the world, “said Tesla’s chief executive, who recently agreed to buy Twitter for $ 44 billion (£ 36 billion). it was said in the announcement For weekend.

Musk, who previously expressed concern over the collapse of the global population, responded to government data showing that Japan’s population fell by a record 644,000 last year – the 11th consecutive year of decline.

Some social media users said Japan is not the only developed economy experiencing a long-term population decline, but others used Musk’s tweet to criticize half-hearted attempts by successive governments to raise birth rates in the world’s third-largest economy.

Japan’s population peaked in 2008 and fell to about 125 million by last year, despite government warnings about the impact on economic growth and occasional campaigns to encourage couples to have larger families.

Some Japanese experts have cited Musk because of his tweet.

“What’s the point of tweeting this at all?” wrote Tobias Harris, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. “The anxieties surrounding Japan’s demographic future are not that ‘Japan will eventually cease to exist’, but rather the deep social dislocations that occur as a result of declining populations.”

Others have called on the Japanese government to further ease the country’s strict immigration rules, although plans to receive up to half a million blue-collar workers by 2025 to address a serious labor shortage have been thwarted by a coronavirus pandemic.

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There have also been calls to address low birth rates, including making it easier for women to return to work after having children.

“They keep saying the birth rate is falling, but given that the government is not taking fundamental steps to address it, what can we say?” said one Twitter user. “Everything they say and do is contradictory.

“In this environment, who’s going to say‘ OK, let’s have a baby ’? I despair about Japan. ”

Experts blame the low birth rate in Japan for several factors, including the high financial costs of raising children, lack of child care and known long working hours.

The country’s population is also one of the oldest in the world, with a record number of nearly 29% aged 65 and over, according to government figures.

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