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Main parties ignoring Japan’s top security threat

11 11 9

The Oct. 22 general election is an ideal opportunity to debate major threats to Japan: Kim Jong Un’s missiles, Donald Trump’s Twitter storms, relations with China and whether three arrows or 12 zeros are key to gross national happiness.

But neither Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s arrows nor Yuriko Koike’s zeros answer Japan’s most difficult threat: demographic devolution. The platforms of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party and Koike’s Kibo no To (Party of Hope) have this in common: no chance of altering a population-and-borrowing trajectory that will push the debt burden toward three times the size of the economy.

Yes, I know. Warning about Japan’s aging and shrinking population veers toward Chicken Little territory. But the latest report from the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) is sobering. The global think tank on political and military conflict sees a “looming crisis” that “threatens U.S. power and Asia-Pacific regional stability” in the likely loss by 2060 of 30 percent of Japan’s population.

Lest you think this is a challenge only for prime ministers of the distant future, consider today’s deflation. When Abe showed Masaaki Shirakawa the door in 2013, the then-Bank of Japan governor warned that the aging population made more aggressive monetary moves futile. Even earlier, in 2011, International Monetary Fund researcher Patrick Imam........

© The Japan Times