74% of Japanese worry about effects of declining population

74% of Japanese worry about effects of declining population

More than 70 per cent of the public are worried that society will decline as they cannot expect economic growth due to the shrinking population, The Yomiuri Shimbun has found in a recent opinion poll.

The nation's population has been decreasing since peaking at 128.08 million in 2008.

In the survey, 76 per cent of the respondents said the government should immediately take countermeasures to deal with the population decline.

When asked whether the population decline will positively affect or negatively affect Japanese society, 79 per cent answered that it would have a negative impact.

In the survey carried out on Feb. 22 and 23, only 18 per cent said Japan will become a mature society in which the quality of life is respected. However, 74 per cent of the polled chose the answer that it will become a declining society in which economic growth is not expected.

Asked about concerns over the nation's future, with multiple answers allowed, 69 per cent chose "heavier social security burdens," followed by "economic activities will become sluggish due to declining labour force" at 57 per cent, "vitality of the entire society will be lost" at 55 per cent, and "more serious depopulation in rural areas" at 50 per cent.

About the future of the social security system, 34 per cent think that taxes and insurance premiums should not be raised even if that means lowering social security benefit levels, while 27 per cent said that they would not mind paying higher taxes or premiums to maintain the current benefit levels. Thirty-seven per cent said that they could not choose from the two options.

To a question about who should bear rising social security costs, 60 per cent answered both elderly and working generations should, while 15 per cent said that the working generation should take on a greater burden. Ten per cent picked increasing the burden on the elderly generation.

To secure a sufficient labour supply amid a declining population, 82 per cent think that the rate of working women should be increased, and 77 per cent think that more elderly should work.

When asked whether more foreign workers should be accepted, 37 per cent said yes, while 54 per cent said no.

Among those who support accepting more foreign workers, 44 per cent said they would welcome people with technical skills and expertise.

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