In the final stages of the second world war, when the United State of America humbled the Japanese by bombing Nagasaki and Hiroshima with the atomic bomb, the nation was defeated and entered an abyss. At that time almost every scholar or intellectual predicted that Japan's future was in massive doubt. However, against all odds, the country rapidly broke the chains of depression and defeat. It was just in the 1970s that Japan was back as a power house, this time as an economic power house.
In the 1970s the nation flourished as they kept on embracing capitalism. In the mid of the 1980s Japan had already surpassed the likes of United Kingdom and France as Japan became the second-largest economy in the world and the leader of the the electronic industry. Those pundits who once predicted the country had no future, now were claiming that the land of the rising sun will even surpass the United State's economy. Technology triumphed in Japan; Tokyo became the world capital of technology. This period in the country's history is known as the "economic miracle". Japan had now almost turned into an utopia.
Until the start of the 1990s when suddenly the nation turned from an utopia to a dystopia. The economic bubble formed in the early 1990s dragged the country's economy in recession. Companies got bankrupt, several citizens lost their properties and the stock markets crashed. The whole period became known as the "lost decade". Even after the millennium, Japan's economy is still struggling and hardly grown. There is no doubt that Japan's main problem is the economic crisis, but now other challenges have also started to emerge. Apart from the economic crisis, the nation is also hit with the demographic crisis and the social crisis. Let's discuss these challenges in a bit more detail.
The Japanese population has fallen by almost one million in the last five years. The current population of 127 million has almost declined by 1% between 2010 and 2015. Along with all this 35% of Japanese population is aged over 65 according to the United Nations. The current birth rate of 1.4 children per woman is one of the lowest fertility rates in the world. The government's agenda to rise this birth rate to 1.8 children per woman will be still not enough to solve the demographic crisis. All these factors combined is nothing but bad news for the country's already shrinking economy and decreasing labour force.
As the demographic crisis has been discussed above, the most interesting part is that the reason for the decline of the Japanese population is actually another major crisis, which is the social crisis. To better understand the social crisis it can be divided into three major issues. Suicide, hikikomori and working hours.
It all begun in 1997 also known as the "dark period". Suddenly the number of suicides rose to 25,000 yearly and even now it is above the level of 20,000 people taking their own lives every year. Many believe this issue is created by the financial crisis and the social atmosphere of the society. The majority of the suicides is committed by the youth. If a young boy fails to gather impressive grade his chances of having a job, girlfriend, wife and a healthy relationship with the family becomes very dim. Such frustrations cause the youth to commit suicide.
Recently it is discovered that bullying has become a major issue as the Japanese main-stream media does not cover it properly. This is another reason for the youth to be involved in suicides. Another factor of the large number of suicides is linked with a historic practice. In the past the samurais used to commit "seppuku", a practice of honorable suicide. When the samurais had committed a major sin or let their clan to defeat or disappointment, they used to take their own lives for the betterment of the community and to restore their glory.
What about those who do not commit suicide, no matter how much despair is in their lives? If you think they are fine, you need to think again. Unfortunately those who some how avoid suicide are then caught up with "hikikomori". In Japan this is a behavior of people who refuse to leave their house and isolate themselves from the society in their houses.
Any person associated with hikikomori is like a "geek" or "nerd". Normally you would expect a youngster to be involved in this certain behavior but surprisingly the average age of people linked with hikikomori is 31. There are about 700,000 individuals living as hikikomori. Mostly such people are men and most of them do not engage in any sexual relationships. However they do fulfill their desires by watching pornography and having virtual girlfriends online.
If a young Japanese gets impressive grades and also graduates in style, he will definitely not commit suicide or become a hikikomori. But that does not mean he has escaped the social crisis in the country. If a job is gained, another problem arises: working hours and environment.