Posted by: grantmiho | November 30, 2012

Crazy Japan Statistic (and the implications)

Last year, it is reported that Japan, for the first time, sold more adult diapers than baby ones!

Given that there is now roughly 25% of the population over 60 years old, it is understandable. With a birthrate of something like 1.2, it presents increasing challenges for the future of Japan. That stat caused me to think about some of the implications this has for Japan and our ministry. Here are a few of my thoughts on what this may mean:

1. All of Japan will continue to deal with the ongoing challenges of funding an unbalanced Social Security system, as many more are taking out rather than paying in. This will create even more stress and anxiety for younger people thinking about their own security and retirement.

2. Since most families may only have one child, there will be even more pressure upon this “golden child” to be successful. With the uncertainties of job security, etc., most parents will try to give everything to their kid to do well in school, outcompete others, and get into great schools to ensure a good life. With depression already high, this increased pressure will likely only increase that number and perpetuate a cycle of anxiety.

3. Japan will need to come to grips with this implication and re-evaluate their stance towards immigration, welcoming more people to offset any decrease in population. Or, attempt some political strategy to encourage more births; though not sure how to turn around a cultural psyche about how many kids to have without deep reforms to making it easier for families to handle larger families in an expensive and crowded urban environment. 

If any of these implications come true, we may have new challenges (and opportunities) for ministry in Japan. As hope becomes a valued commodity and people need relief from overwhelming anxiety, the church may grow to be a sought after place of refuge and solace. We may also be able to care for and equip these young people to rise above such pressures and be change agents in the culture. 

Our prayer is also that many elderly people, though statistically less open to change and conversion, will be open to the Gospel. Miho’s father is one beacon of hope, as he came to trust Christ three years ago at the age of 64. It is never too late for anyone. This stat reminds us how necessary our presence is, as times of uncertainty and change are when pastoral leadership is so valuable. 

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