WSJ #6, Japan Becomes A Perfect Model For Solving The Population Bulge

Donald A. Collins | 30 November 2015
Church and State

Japan is changing how we will grow old. (Credit: YouTube / screengrab)

In its 6th in the Wall Street Journal’s November 30, 2015 page one series about the demographic transitions occurring worldwide, the headline reads “Graying Japan Looks For A Silver Lining”.

It sets forth the proposition which at long last finally lets this series head in a reasonable direction, sans some of the hand wringing cries of earlier articles.

“Conventional wisdom says a large elderly population undermines an economy, and that Japan’s unprecedented aging condemns the country to a bleak future. The logic: Old people are an unproductive drain, squandering resources on pensions and health care, while doing little for growth through working, earning, spending or paying taxes.”

It begins its article with the sub headline, “Graying Japan Tries To Embrace The Golden Years” by telling of a 57 year old Tokyo construction worker, Kenichi Saito, stacking 44 pound boards at a building construction site with, as the article tells us, “the ease of a man half his age”.

Turns out his secret is “a bendable exoskeleton hugging his waist and thighs with sensors attached to his waist and skin.” This contraption lessens the load by 18 pounds and allows him to be a valued employee and the large construction company which employs him to continue their projects, for which such labor has become harder to find as the population ages. 25% of the 107 million Japanese are 65 or older vs only 15% in the US.

This would seem to make a case for more births in Japan or the justifying of having more immigration into the USA, but those would clearly be bad moves, given the task of gradually, humanely and intelligently recovering from what has been and continues to be a decades long binge of unsustainable population growth.

The day must come (and the sooner the better) when governments and their populations finally get serious in taking action about the obvious fact unlimited growth on a finite planet is not possible.

Could Japan be a happy test site for the inevitable reining in and then deflating the numbers of humans on Earth??

The Journal article notes that there is increasing pressure from the corporate community to allow more immigration, but Japan has been steadfast in its resistance to becoming multicultural or multiracial.

Those opposing such a policy point out the value of making aging a positive by getting good work from those over 60 who also become consumers with significant impact on the economy.

Of course as an 85 year old with no intent of retiring, I know the stimulation of my continuing business, charitable and social activities on my general health and mental acuity as well as the positive influence I can bring to helping younger members of my family.

The history of going fallow in that old rocking chair is not a happy one.

Everyone can plainly see that being 80 for many of us is the new 60 or 65! We are simply aging better and planning better for our exits.

Worth special mention is the stellar work of a US organization, Compassion and Choices, which assists those with terminal illnesses in finding a way to end life on their terms rather than in the hands of people who would sustain life regardless of the wishes of the patient. Go to this site for more information,

I recently gave testimony before the Washington DC Council Committee which is investigating adoption of the dying with dignity laws now in place in 5 states including California.

So let me close with a Bravo to the Journal for telling how the corporate community is stepping up there to make these hires possible. One in 5 old Japanese work and their longevity (87 for women, 81 for men) makes this transition mandatory, as it truly is for the world.

In short, Japan is giving the world a blueprint for handling what has become a seemingly intractable problem without calling in the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse as many predict if we do not take action soon. Ehrlich’s population bomb has already exploded, but we can find much to learn from the Japanese story.

Former US Navy officer, banker and venture capitalist, Donald A. Collins, a free lance writer living in Washington, DC., has spent over 40 years working for women’s reproductive health as a board member and/or officer of numerous family planning organizations including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Guttmacher Institute, Family Health International and Ipas. Yale under graduate, NYU MBA. He is the author of From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013.

WSJ Page One Series: Other Articles by Don Collins

Back in 1991, the NGO Don Collins founded in 1976, International Services Assistance Fund (ISAF), co-produced a TV quality 22-minute film called “Whose Choice?” which Ted Turner arranged to broadcast on September 21, 1992 in prime time on his then independent Turner Broadcast System (TBS). Other outlets such as PBS and several of its affiliates Collins and his colleagues contacted then refused to run it because of its forthright treatment of the abortion issue, arguing for all women’s right to choose not to have a baby. ISAF has made a new edition of that DVD. The purpose for reissuing this 3rd version of “Whose Choice?” was simply to show the historical urgency that attended those times, still blocked and attacked over 40 years after the Roe v Wade decision in 1973. This video is available for public viewing for the first time.

Al Bartlett – Is Birth Dearth a Real Problem?

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