...it looks like we here in Japan are once again getting a sneak preview of the challenges that are going to be facing the rest of the developed world very soon.
What comes to your mind when you hear the words "demographic crunch"?
If you're like much of the general public, having been steeped their whole lives in propaganda pimping the debunked notion of an "overpopulation crisis," you probably won't even know what the term "demographic crunch" means.
But you, dear reader, are not part of the general public. You're part of that special fraction of the population that has seen my work on the real nature of the demographic crisis that the developed world is facing (namely, underpopulation) and are already looking for the warning signs of this crisis.
So let me put the question to you: What are the warning signs of an undepopulation crisis? What does a "demographic crunch" look like, and how will it start to manifest itself in our day-to-day lives?
The answers to these questions may take you by surprise. They certainly surprised me.
Allow me to explain. This column that you're reading and that I've been writing for eight (!) years now is largely a product of caffeine. You see, for almost the entirety of that eight years I've been writing this column every Friday night at a local cafe. That's right. While you were out partying it up for the weekend or spending some quality time with the family, I've been diligently tucking my family into bed and then heading out to the local cafe, sipping on coffee as I type away furiously on my laptop, often staying until closing time to get this column done in time for The International Forecaster publication deadline.
But no more. It started out with my go-to cafe closing down for two months for renovations. No big loss. There are still plenty of other cafes to go to, right? Well, the next most convenient cafe turned out to be closed as well. Usually open until midnight, it seemed to be shutting its doors at 10 PM.
10 PM? How am I supposed to finish writing about the intricacies of the world of hidden history and conspiratorial geopolitics by 10 PM? Obviously, that wouldn't do. So I tried the next nearest spot, one that similarly was open until midnight . . . . Or used to be open until midnight. It had suddenly changed its closing time to 11 PM.
What was going on here? Was there some sort of intelligence agency plot afoot to make sure I couldn't work on the newsletter late at night anymore?
Well, not exactly. The answer came buried in a breaking news story that crossed the news feeds here in the land of the rising sun: Due to a labor shortage, 7-Eleven franchisees in Japan have petitioned the corporate head office for permission to break the firm's 24-hour operation mandate and close their stores at night. Earlier this month the company relented, testing a shorter 7 AM to 11 PM opening hour schedule at ten of the corporate-run stores across the country.
What exactly they're "testing" for is unclear, but this seemingly minor news story provides a window into a major demographic phenomenon. It isn't just 7-Eleven that's feeling the pinch of the current Japanese labor shortage; other major convenience store chains like Lawson and Family Mart are also experimenting with shorter opening hours, as are McDonald's, Royal Host (an owner of several popular 24-hour restaurant chains in the country) and a number of other businesses.
Including, apparently, my local cafes.
The pinch being felt in the retail/fast food industry is part of a wider labor shortage that is putting the squeeze on employers all across the Japanese economy. From construction to tech to basically every sector of the economy, Japan's labor shortage is at a 45-year high and the country's shrinking population ensures it's only going to get worse. If current trends continue the country will be over 6 million workers short by 2030 with the overall workforce forecast to drop to half its current size by 2060.
So as you can see, the very abstract notion of a "demographic crunch" has begun to manifest in palpable ways, even for people like myself who are largely insulated from the ups and downs of the Japanese economy.
Unsurprisingly, the situation is becoming a political hot potato for the Abe government. As the crunch becomes more severe, the pressures on the economy will grow, but the only "solution" that doesn't involve Japanese women suddenly pumping babies out en masse is to ease up on some of the restrictions to foreign workers entering the notoriously closed-off Japanese workforce. As you can imagine, the first tentative steps in this direction have been controversial to say the least.
Well, there is one other solution, of course: Replace human workers with robot workers! After all, this is high-tech Japan, home of Pepper the Softbank Robot! What's not to love with a cute, cuddly robot workforce to look after Japan's aging society?
Which brings us to the next bizarre turn in this demographic saga: The blending of robots and traditional Japanese religious practice. Yes, as technocracy.news reported recently, "A Japanese robot has been created to preach the teachings of Buddha in colloquial language at the Kodaiji Temple in the ancient city of Kyoto."
Somehow, though, that sentence doesn't quite do justice to the strangeness of the story. You'll have to watch the video to get a handle on just how deeply unsettling the site of buddhist monks bowing before a robot priest really is.
So the demographic crunch is revealing its true face, and (unsurprisingly for those who are aware of the transhumanist and technocratic agendas) that face is robotic. After all, the long term goal of those pushing the depopulation agenda is to replace the human cattle that were previously needed to keep the gears of the economy turning with silicon life that won't require bread and circuses to keep them from rising up against their masters.
So, long story short, the demographic crunch leads very quickly from the soft changes in daily routine to the sheer cliff of the transhumanist technocratic nightmare future. And most people still don't even know it's coming.
But on a personal note: Don't worry. In a remarkable coincidence, I broke my eight year-long habit of writing at cafes late at night at almost the exact same time that the cafes here started closing early. (It turns out that waking up early and writing while I'm still fresh allows me to spend Friday nights with my family. Imagine that!)
But for many people in the Japanese economy, these kinds of changes are going to start adding up, and drastically altering the flow of day-to-day life in a country that has long been famed for its supposed overpopulation.
And—as with quantitative easing and negative interest rates and other adventures in finance, economics and society—it looks like we here in Japan are once again getting a sneak preview of the challenges that are going to be facing the rest of the developed world very soon.