Daniel also spells out a dire warning to the US/West as well…
Japan had nothing but nationalism, xenophobia, and consumer goods to offer its citizens. That didn’t make Japan into a formidable superpower, but a nation of elderly singles with really great computers. China also has nothing to offer its population except nationalism, xenophobia, and consumer goods. And its cities are full of aging single women with some of the best smartphones and shoes on the market.
The Future Doesn’t Belong to China
The People’s Republic has no future.
In the 1980s, movies like Die Hard and Back to the Future 2 showed off a Japanese takeover of America. Turning Japanese was bound to be playing on the radio every hour. Japan had leveraged unfair trade policies, currency manipulation, and government subsidies to buy up American companies (it’s still happening, but few are paying attention) and was the wave of the future sweeping over America.
Everyone was driving Japanese cars, using Japanese electronics, and buying “Made in Japan.” And Japan got there by stealing massive amounts of American intellectual property and reselling it to Americans.
By 1991, George Friedman’s book, The Coming War With Japan, was flying off the shelves.
Why doesn’t the future belong to Japan? There are economic answers. But there’s also a demographic answer. Japan entered the 1980s with an acceptably healthy 14 births per 1,000 people birth rate. The Japanese rate back then was only a little below America’s own 15 births per 1,000 people number.
But throughout the 80s, while Japan was supposed to be taking over America, its economy was impressive, but its birth rate was cratering at an even more impressive rate. By 1991, the future not only didn’t belong to Japan, but at a rate of 10 births per 1,000 people, it didn’t even have a future of its own.
Japan had entered the 1980s with a median age of 32. It left the decade with a median age of 37. By 2000, the median age was 40. Today, it approaches 50. The median Japanese age had passed fertility.
The Japanese had foreclosed their own future.
What were they doing instead of having children? Buying stuff. Lots and lots of stuff. Economic consumption rose and marriage dropped away.
The origins of Japan’s boom lay in the 70s with a marriage boom which led to a massive baby boom. The energized population seemed as if it might take over the world. But Japan’s ‘baby boomers’ instead decided to enjoy the good life. Today the marriage rate is less than half that. The Japanese went from marrying in their twenties to marrying in their thirties. Maternal age at birth also rose from the twenties to the thirties. The nation’s fertility rate is at 1.42. Far below replacement rate. That means no future.
The first part of this story should sound familiar. Just substitute the People’s Republic of China for Japan.