Fun Facts #9: Divorce, Population decrease, Japan’s minus GDP growth, and inherited Nat’l Diet member seats


Hi Blog. Here are another series of “Fun Facts”–innocuous-looking statistics which open portals into grander trends at work:

Fact one: Divorce rate rocketing, as predicted by

-> National Chauvinistic Husbands Association
Courtesy Terrie’s Take #442, December 2, 2007

The advent of a new law back in April this year which allows women to seek half of their husband’s pension has spawned both a boom in divorces (up 6.1% in April alone) as well as a reactionary protest group called the National Chauvinistic Husbands Association (NCHA). The group says that the “chauvinistic” part of their moniker, “kanpaku” in Japanese, refers more accurately to the top assistant to the emperor in days gone by, rather than the current negative meaning that it has today. Regardless, the association faces an uphill battle. Apparently 70% of Japanese women are staying single until 29 or later, versus 75% of them being married at that age twenty years ago, and 95% of all divorce applications come from women. (Source: TT commentary from, Nov 29, 2007)

COMMENT: Surprised by both the jump and the fact that almost all people asking for divorce are women. I was in the tiny minority. More on the issue of divorce in Japan at

On to Fact 2: Japan’s imminent depopulation:

-> Workers to fall 10.7m in 22 years
Courtesy Terrie’s Take #441, November 25, 2007

The Labor Ministry has said that Japan’s working population will drop by around 17%, or 10.7m people, by 2030. This will cause the current labor force of 66.57m to fall to 55.84m. The Ministry says that the fall could be held to less than half this amount if more women and elderly joined the workforce. ***Ed: And tell us again why the Japanese government has turned xenophobic about foreigners living in Japan? It’s only a matter of time before the realities of the market force a mind shift in the politicians and bureaucrats who today are so busy trying to keep foreigners and their child-breeding ways out of Japan.** (Source: TT commentary from, Nov 23, 2007)

COMMENT: I will point out the irony behind the wan hope that forcing more women to work is actually going to help women want to have babies? And that the oft-touted development of robots (including this silly article from The Economist Dec 20th 2005 “Japan’s humanoid robots–Better than people: Why the Japanese want their robots to act more like humans”) is no elixir.

This leads us to Fact Three: Japan’s decreasing GDP Growth (in start contrast to the rest of the developed world. Courtesy of Niall Murtagh of The Community:

Debito — Interesting statistic on WBS news (World Biz Satellite) last night, December 2: can’t remember the figures exactly but in the 10 years from 1996 to 2006, GNP grew by over 50% in UK, Canada, Australia, 45%+ in France, Italy, and by about 2% in Japan.

In other words while Japan is not getting poorer, it is being left behind by nearly all other major (and minor) countries, as regards growth.

Immigration does seem to go in tandem with economic growth (from 1995-2005, non-nationals in Ireland went from almost none to 10% of population, while GNP increased by about 140%). It won’t happen here. Did a bit of quick googling and found figs that make the TV stats seem about right.

(Web site only gives figs in national currencies, so I calculated the % change).
It sure hasn’t been a great decade for Japan, even if statistics are only statistics!

GDP per capita, current prices
IMF World Economic Outlook and EconStats
1996 – 2006 % change
Japan: -1.47
Italy 47.14
France 38.60
UK 61.29
Germany 22.94
Netherlands 47.79
Spain 84.45
Finland 59.11
Greece 103.54
Portugal 66.93
Switzerland 22.08
Ireland 153.17
Australia 59.33
NewZealand 43.33
Canada 54.76
Korea 87.64
China 131.90
US 51.34

COMMENT: Do people really think they’re being served by the powers that be that run this country? Although I’m well aware the true policymakers in this society are the faceless bureaucrats, the actual policymaking part of Japan that is not faceless–the Diet–is actually a peerage masquerading as an elected legislature.

“When you look at the figures, what can only be called a political class becomes clear. After the last election, for example, 185 of 480 Diet members (39%) are second- or third- (or more) generation politicians (seshuu seijika). Of 244 members of the LDP (the ruling party for practically all the postwar period), 126 (52%) are inherited. Eight of the last ten Prime Ministers were from inherited seats, as are around half of the Abe and Fukuda Cabinets. When you have an average turnover of only about 3% per election, the cream floats to the top, and debates become very closed-circuit…”

Courtesy the author. Excerpted from my upcoming Japan Times Zeit Gist column out December 20, 2007, Draft Six. Otanoshimi ni…

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

4 comments on “Fun Facts #9: Divorce, Population decrease, Japan’s minus GDP growth, and inherited Nat’l Diet member seats

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