Thursday, December 21, 2006


The last time I visited Tokyo it seemed to be undergoing the same population explosion as my commuter train, but according to a survey by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research for the Ministry of Health in Tokyo, in 2005 the Japanese population declined for the first time since World War II, though I didn't notice any gaps in the crowd.

The report went on to say that by 2055, when I'll be 115 and considering giving up a cigar with every brandy or vice-versa, the population of Japan (which already enjoys the highest number of elderly and the lowest number of youtherly as a percentage of its population) will have fallen 30% from the current 127 million persons mostly with no seat on the commuter train to some 90 million who will all have window seats.

By then things will be comparatively sparse, peoplewise, assuming that the birth rate stays at the amazing current low of 1.26 children per average Japanese woman, who, though extremely good looking, is marrying later in life and having fewer offspring. This choice is understandable if you've ever watched the young ladies making themselves up on the crowded commuter train, to say nothing of the physical danger with all those tools in all that jostling, when in contrast it takes an entire nine months, day-and-night, to have a baby and after that you can pretty much forget about makeup.

Like, that's a choice? They're saying in translation. These young women don't want that. Well, they do, in the ancient genetically directed way, but right now they prefer shopping, makeup, fashion, small faces and free time. After all, they've seen the future as embodied in their harried parents and are not pleased at the prospect. If I were their age, I too would be tempted to slap some pancake on reality. But the population plunge isn't all their fault, it's also the fault of the other half of the equation, the increasingly epicene young men who, in pursuing the new smooth male aesthetic, are going for makeup and eye shadow themselves. There's also the government's traditional xenophobia regarding immigration.

Prime Minister Abe has pledged to introduce new policies to reverse this procreational indifference among Japanese citizens of childbearing age (outlaw makeup?)... Where his efforts will all lead, who knows. But one great thing, if this all stays on track, is that by my 116th birthday (big party, you're invited, bring some booze and cigars, quality preferred, venue to be announced), 41% of Japan's population will be over 65 (let's rock!) and only 8% will be under 14, so we'll be able to hear our own music!

Another neat aspect of all this is that my daughter Kasumi and her husband Tatsuya, in having three offspring in as many years, are well ahead of their peers in this national quest to restore the nation to its former birthright, but they are rare; their old friends generally have no kids, or maybe one. So a couple thousand years from now, when I'll likely have graduated to using a walker, Japan may have to deal with Brady genes bigtime.


kenju said...

Good thing you're not in China.

Robert Brady said...

My next ancient move.