Japan as we know it is doomed. Only a revolution can save it. What kind of revolution? Japan must become "a nation of immigrants."
That's a hard sell in this notoriously closed country. Salesman-in-chief — surprisingly enough — is a retired Justice Ministry bureaucrat named Hidenori Sakanaka, former head of the ministry's Tokyo Immigration Bureau and current executive director of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute, a private think tank he founded in 2007.
It's an unlikely resume for a sower of revolution. Sakanaka clearly sees himself as such. His frequent use of the word "revolution" suggests a clear sense of swimming against the current. Other words he favors — "utopia," "panacea" — suggest the visionary.
"Japan as we know it" is in trouble on many fronts. The Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011, and the subsequent tsunami and nuclear disasters, struck a nation whose economy had been stagnant for 20 years while politicians fiddled and government floundered. But that's not Sakanaka's point. He is focused on demographics. "Japan," he said in a recent telephone interview, "is on the brink of collapse."
The nation's population peaked at 128 million in 2004 and has been in accelerating decline since. By 2050, the government's National Institute of Population and Social Policy Research estimates, 40 percent of Japanese people will be 65 or over. Twenty-three percent already are, as against a mere 13 percent aged 15 and under.
( read moreCollapse )
Discussion: Opinions Arama? Which would come first, better conditions for working women and mothers or influxes of immigrants? Would you go to Japan to live and what job would you take up?