”In the first place, in a society with a declining population that is experiencing a declining birthrate and aging population, labor shortages occur first, followed by a contraction of the domestic market (lack of demand)”.
This was pointed out in the October 15 issue of the Sankei Shimbun’s ”Sunday Lecture”.
Currently, ”2024 problem” is being touted, and it is said that the labor shortage will become a serious issue from next year onwards, but even if we overcome the labor shortage, a full-scale consumer shortage awaits us next.
The full-fledged consumer shortage is likely to arrive in the late 2040s when the population drops below 100 million people, but I think it will start to be felt little by little from around 2030.
Considering this situation, short-term measures will be fatal. If we are fooled by the immediate labor shortage and accept a large number of foreign workers, we will end up with a surplus of workers, making it difficult for social activities and business management.
First of all, the key is to come up with an idea to overcome the labor shortage without increasing manpower. When it comes to companies, only those that can survive the labor shortage without requiring much labor will likely survive. Simply put, the question is how to cover tasks that were previously covered by 10 people with 5 people.
Although it is difficult, this is the perspective required in the age of population onus. Full utilization of ICT and digital technology is essential, but this alone will probably not solve the labor shortage. Reforms are also needed, such as revising the excessive service that “customers are God” and making it simpler and more functional, and reconsidering unnecessary excessive competition that is nothing more than a storm in a glass. Another key point is to establish a business mindset that is always conscious of global expansion.
If these efforts are successful, we will be able to respond flexibly to both labor shortages and consumer shortages, and in the process, social and economic models suitable for the era of population onus will be created.
In any case, we should refrain from taking a short-sighted view and focus on a broader perspective. (Kei Kitajima)