Japan’s Population Problem

The United States’ alliance with Japan is the centerpiece of U.S. security in Asia, but new demographic challenges from within Japan raise concerns about the future of the region.

Play Button Pause Button
0:00 0:00
x
Host
  • Gabrielle Sierra
    Director, Podcasting
Credits

Asher Ross - Supervising Producer

Markus Zakaria - Audio Producer and Sound Designer

Rafaela Siewert - Associate Podcast Producer

Episode Guests
  • Zack Cooper
    Senior Fellow, American Enterprise Institute
  • Motoko Rich
    Tokyo Bureau Chief, New York Times
  • Sheila A. Smith
    John E. Merow Senior Fellow for Asia-Pacific Studies

Show Notes

The U.S.-Japan alliance is at the heart of U.S. security in Asia, and some consider Japan to be the United States’ most important ally. But Japan’s population is aging and its birth rate is on the decline, a problematic trend given that population size has historically equated to power. Now, the future of the countries’ economic, military, and governance partnership could be at stake. In this episode, three experts explain how Japan’s demographic quagmire could impact the United States sooner than anyone thinks.

 

Dig Deeper 

 

From Zach Cooper

 

US-Japan relations under Biden and Suga: The future of a critical alliance,” AEI

 

From Motoko Rich

 

A Shrinking Society in JapanNew York Times

 

From CFR

 

The U.S.-Japan Security Alliance,” Lindsay Maizland and Beina Xu

 

How Japan Is Upgrading Its Military,” Sheila A. Smith

 

Constitutional Change in Japan” 

 

A Changing United States and Japan,” Sheila A. Smith and Toshihiro Nakayama 

 

Read More

 

The rise of Japanese militarism,” Vox

 

Security laws usher in new era for pacifist Japan,” Japan Times

 

A Pacifist Japan Starts to Embrace the Military,” New York Times

 

Why Does Japan Make It So Hard for Working Women to Succeed?New York Times

 

Famous for its resistance to immigration, Japan opens its doors,” Nikkei Asia

 

The Mystery of Why Japanese People Are Having So Few Babies,” Atlantic 

 

Watch and Listen

 

Why China is building islands in the South China Sea,” Vox

 

Japan’s China Challenge,ChinaTalk 

 

Media

In a wide-ranging conversation, Foreign Affairs Editor Dan Kurtz-Phelan joins Why It Matters to discuss nonpartisan publishing in a polarized political climate, the state of press freedom around the world, and the future of journalism.

Genocide and Mass Atrocities

Thirty years ago, Rwanda’s government began a campaign to eradicate the country’s largest minority group. In just one hundred days in 1994, roving militias killed around eight hundred thousand people. Would-be killers were incited to violence by the radio, which encouraged extremists to take to the streets with machetes. The United Nations stood by amid the bloodshed, and many foreign governments, including the United States, declined to intervene before it was too late. What got in the way of humanitarian intervention? And as violent conflict now rages at a clip unseen since then, can the international community learn from the mistakes of its past?

Economics

Many Americans are losing faith in the benefits of internationalism. But whether it’s wars in the Gaza Strip and Ukraine, worsening extreme weather as a result of climate change, or the trade-offs of globalization, events abroad are increasingly having a local impact. At the same time, more state and local officials in the United States are becoming involved in global affairs, conducting their own form of diplomacy on international issues and driving investment home. What role should the United States play in the world economy? And how do states and cities fit in?

Top Stories on CFR

 

Iran

Ebrahim Raisi was more loyal to hard-line Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei than previous presidents, and whoever succeeds him is likely to be just as conservative.  

United States

A proposed Japanese takeover of U.S. Steel is facing domestic political pushback that could challenge Biden administration foreign policy aims.