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.

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  • Gabrielle Sierra
    Director, Podcasting

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 


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