Musk, the head of electric vehicle manufacturers Tesla Inc, over the weekend, tweeted: “At the risk of stating the obvious, unless something changes to cause the birth rate to exceed the death rate, Japan will eventually cease to exist. This would be a big one. loss to the world “.
@WholeMarsBlog At the risk of stating the obvious, unless something changes to make the birth rate exceed death … https://t.co/oLyh2DxspC
– Elon Musk (@elonmusk) 1651957329000
The comment struck a nerve among Japanese observers and in Japan, whose population peaked in 2008 and has since declined due to its low birth rate to around 125 million last year, despite warnings from the government and sporadic attempts to address the problem.
But Japan remains the world’s third largest economy, hosts global heavyweights ranging from car makers to game developers, and is a key link in global semiconductor supply chains.
“What’s the point of tweeting this?” wrote Tobias Harris, a research fellow at the Center for American Progress.
“The anxiety surrounding Japan’s demographic future is not that ‘Japan will eventually cease to exist’, but rather the profound social dislocations that are occurring as a result of the decline to a lower population level.”
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Others noted that the slow birth rate plagues many nations besides Japan, including Germany – where Tesla just opened a new factory – and that Japan was simply hit first.
But many Japanese commentators said the situation wasn’t surprising and criticized their government for not doing enough to fight it, for example by providing more daycare and making it easier for women to return to work after having children.
“They keep saying that the birth rate is falling, but since the government is not taking thorough steps to address it, what can we say? Everything they say and do is contradictory,” Twitter user SROFF wrote.
“In this environment, who will say ‘Okay, let’s have a baby’? I despair for Japan.”