The most important issue in our country did not become a subject for the hot discussion in the recently held local elections
The local elections were over. In the local elections, the discussion of how each regions deal with this important issue was expected to become a center of hot discussion. Contrary to this expectation, I had the impression that the discussion was over in low key. The voting rate was smaller as compared to previous elections. For this reason, I would like to take up this topic, Japan’s most serious issue, and present my view.
The most serious issue of our country is the progress in aging process, resulting in a decrease in population
The serious issue of Japan is that with the progress of aging process the population decreases. It is characteristic that the progress in aging and the decrease in population vary in each regions. Whereas there are local governments where aging process reached peak and the population started to decrease, there are local governments where aging will reach peaks twenty years from now. From another point of view, the current situation can be classified into three groups:
1) Large city – aging population increases, while productive young population decreases.
2) Local major urban areas – aging population marks slight decrease, with the decrease of productive young population.
3) Other areas – both aging and productive young population decreases.
It is anticipated that service of medical care will be short by 2040 in Tokyo metropolitan areas, especially in its neighboring area where an inflow of the population continues.
Two strategies for dealing with this issue
I would like to propose two strategies dealing with this issue. One is to streamline local major urban area to increase efficiency resulting in revenue improvement. More than seventy percent of employment in Japan comes from service sector. Redesigning medium sized cities of Japan so that most of its population will live close by in a very compact way will eventually lead to the growth of service sector and increase of worker’s wage. The reason is that if you have people living close by, traveling cost of service providers will be small. The other is to take action with all policies to the purpose of raising average number of birth rate of women, the total fertility rate (*TRF), to around 1.8. Because measures to increase birth rate in Japan are still low on global standard. There is a need to apply drastic measures in order to raise the TRF up to 1.8. Strategies for TRF should be taken by national administration but it is important to take up this subject as the situation differs region-by-region.
* Total fertility rate (TFR) represents average number of children per women. In 2014 TFR was 1.43.