It has now become an annual topic of discussion, and it is no longer surprising, but according to Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, the number of births in 2023 was the lowest ever, at just over 750,000. This figure includes foreigners, so the figure for Japanese alone is even lower. The death toll is over 1.59 million, the highest ever. Natural population decline was approximately 830,000.

The declining birthrate, aging population, and population decline are slowly progressing. As usual, various media outlets emphasize the need for countermeasures, and the government also takes countermeasures, but with little success. This situation has been going on for several decades. In this case, it seems more natural to assume that there are no effective public measures.

It is said that societies with developed economies and improved status for women tend to have fewer children. This is a universal theorem, and it is in line with this theorem that Japan is facing a declining birthrate, aging population, and population decline.

The birthrate is declining not only in Japan but in all developed countries. Even in France, which is said to be a country that has succeeded in combating the declining birthrate, the birthrate last year was 1.68. Although this is higher than Japan’s 1.26, it is hard to say that the trend of declining birthrate has been stopped. In short, they are similar.

Germany’s ratio, which at one point had dropped to around 1.2, is currently hovering above 1.5, but this is said to be due to the acceptance of large numbers of immigrants. If Japan were to accept a large number of immigrants, it would immediately rise to level 1.5. I don’t know if there is any point in going that far to increase the apparent birth rate, but…

Frankly, I don’t think that measures to combat the declining birthrate will be effective. I do not believe that efforts to ignore the theorems and go against the flow of the times will be successful. The past few decades of ineffective efforts speak volumes about this. In fact, I think it would be much more effective to build an ecosystem where people can live positively even if the population halves. There are many names for it, such as a “compact nation,” “smart nation,” and “simple nation,” but perhaps the time has come to envision such a nation and put all our heart and soul into it. (Kei Kitajima)