Social Issues in Japan
Japan is facing many social, economic, and political challenges. Statistics predict that the country will face more problems if the social matters are not solved. The main issue for the country is the aging population, which contributes to most of its problems. Fast aging causes a failing workforce, alters birth rates, and affects working hours due to the minimal workforce. With a weak government that is not supported by the citizens, fixing such problems might raise an even bigger matter since collaboration might not be attainable.
Japan has the world’s oldest population with an alarming growth wave. This has been the trend for the past 35 years, as the country has maintained a preeminent status regarding the aging population. With such a high rate in the elderly population, the country records one of the longest life expectancies. The age wave is engineered by a number of demographics including birth rate and life expectancies. The increasing life expectancy has risen from 72 years to 84 years (Kavedžija, 2016). This, combined with the lowest fertility rate, aggravated the progression of the older generation. It, therefore, creates a gap between the young and the old, thus no reproduction directed towards increasing the population. The largest population is at menopause, leading to low birth rates. The younger generation is also affected since there is a small population of men compared to women, hence marriages are not happening as much as they should. Younger men are also associated with suicides due to the economy status and the need to work overtime to provide for their aging (Kavedžija, 2016). The culture in japan dictates that the younger members of the family should take care of the aged as opposed to most western countries whereby parents are committed into homes for the elderly.
The aging issue affects the working population, thus affecting work policies. This, in turn, leads to a fast decline in both the social and economic development of the country. The working population, which is between 15 to 65 years, is drastically plunging, leaving a gap in most of the economic fields such as nursing, transportation, and construction. In these fields, open positions tend to outnumber the applicants, thus a shortage of manpower. Some of the industries that require much labor cannot suitably sustain themselves since most of the workers there might already be old, thus not able to provide manual power. Some fields such as nursing have, however, not been affected like the others due to the use of technology and robotics but the labor force numbers are still predicted to fall if the country is to keep pace with the populations’ ages.
As the working population dwindles and the economy fails, gender inequality remains rampant such that there is minimal political participation for women in the government. The status of women in the country is a direct contributor to the failing economy (Tucker, 2016). Women are considered the family caregivers and are, therefore, not considered to fend and help the family. Instead, they are expected to stay at home taking care of the family. For those already working, they never go back to the workplace after childcare leave. This means that there is a major concern in Japan on whether one should choose work or children. Women are, therefore, denied managerial, supervising, and other top positions. Instead, they are fitted into the workforce as a way of blindfolding them to believe that there is equality (Lindsay &Najafizadeh, 2018). All this changes the moment a woman bears children because, most of the time, they never go back to work. This leaves men with the task of working in an effort to maintain and improve the crushing economy. However, the government is doing little to improve the gender gap in the country. Even though there are rules and laws supposed to govern women against offenses such as sexual harassment, such cases are rarely followed through (Lindsay &Najafizadeh, 2018). Women, therefore, remain oppressed and under the rule of men because of their biological differences such as childbirth. Most cases of harassment end up unreported due to fear and shame and because the law fails in protecting the interests of the victims. Japan, therefore, fails to empower women, thus making feminism unpopular.
The government of japan is closing down preparatory schools since the number of students keeps going low. With the low birthrates, school facilities are left empty thus being closed down by the government. These are facilities that could be turned into child care centers where they take care of children especially those who are not yet of school going age (Tucker, 2016). This can be seen as play groups so that the mothers are given a chance to go back to work and provide equally. It helps in bringing balance to gender equality such that women are not only treated like caregivers but also like providers. The issue of gender inequality in japan runs deep leaving women in compromising positions where they are not even able to defend themselves leave alone work.
The working age gap and the fact that most economic responsibilities are left to men lead to gaps that need to be filled in the workforce. As such the people who can work end up being overworked, hence high death cases due to exhaustion from overworking. The overwork ends up being inhumane and against human rights (Yamauchi et.al, 2017). Such matters are attributed to the fact that there is too much work to be done yet labor is limited. Japan is the third leading economy in the world with great inventions in technology and the auto mobile industry. For such results to be achieved, workers have to put a lot more time and effort, which the human body is not able to withstand, thus the high death rates (Eguchi et al., 2017). The seriousness of the situation has forced the Japanese government to seek foreign labor to fill the gap. This is expected to boost the country’s economy and minimize deaths caused by overworking.
Japan is one of the world’s super powers economy wise but the social issues surrounding the country are predicted to bring it down if necessary measures are not taken. Once the aging population issue is solved, all the problems associated with it will be solved.. Women should be given opportunities to fend for themselves and their families with no discrimination. Empowering women and allowing them to work could help in improving the situation. Women should also be allocated better positions both at work and within the government to help in the increase of labor and policy development. As a big economic entity, the social issues need to be solved for this status to be maintained.
Eguchi, H., Wada, K., & Smith, D. R. (2016). Recognition, compensation, and prevention of karoshi, or death due to overwork.
Kavedžija, I. (2016). The age of decline? Anxieties about ageing in Japan. Ethnos, 81(2), 214-237.
Lindsey, L. L., & Najafizadeh, M. (2018). 8 Gender Equality in the Japanese Workplace. Women of Asia: Globalization, Development, and Gender Equity.
Tucker, R. (2016). Implications of Abenomics on Gender Equality in Japan and Its Conformity with CEDAW. Or. L. Rev., 95, 543.
Yamauchi, T., Yoshikawa, T., Takamoto, M., Sasaki, T., Matsumoto, S., Kayashima, K., & Takahashi, M. (2017). Overwork-related disorders in Japan: Recent trends and development of a national policy to promote preventive measures. Industrial Health, 2016-0198.