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For the first time in recorded history, the human population is expected to peak by the end of this century. Population decline and the ‘grey spectre’ are affecting mature economies, including Australia. The world’s population of people aged 60 years and older is expected to double by 2050, while fertility rates in high-income countries appear to be in long‑term decline.

Together with an ageing population, which is finding it difficult to retire because of the pressure on healthcare and pensions, younger generations have shown a marked hesitancy to start families as part of reduced optimism among Japanese youth in general.


Among economically advanced countries, as demonstrated in Figure 1 below, the ‘lowest-low fertility’ rates are particularly pronounced in 3 regions: Northeast Asia, and Eastern and Southern Europe.


Dubbed the ‘lost decades’, Japan’s economic and societal gridlock triggered by the bursting of the property market bubble in 1991, has produced prolonged anaemic economic growth and wage stagnation.

New capitalism

In recognition of the problem of fertility decline, on 19 January 2022, Prime Minister Kishida Fumio launched a plan for a ‘new capitalism’ at the World Economic Forum. Mr Kishida then used his first speech.