A post at New Geography lays out several population figures for Japan:
In 2007, Japan’s population reached a tipping point. It was the first year in its history (excluding 1945) where the number of deaths exceeded the number of births. In 2007 there were 2,000 more deaths than births. In 2011 that figure rose to approximately 204,000, and it’s a figure that is accelerating. Indeed, at 23.1%, Japan has the highest proportion of over-65s in the world, and at 13.2%, the world’s lowest proportion of under 14s. Japan’s population peaked at 127.7 million in 2007, and is forecast to shrink to a mere 47 million by 2100.
While the topic of declining fertility rates in many industrialized nations has been discussed for a while now, I’m still not sure we are prepared to deal with the idea of declining populations. Particularly in the United States, we associate population increases with progress. An example: cities that lose population are seen as doing something wrong while cities that are growing are successes. A similar mindset exists with religious congregations. Japan is clearly an advanced nation yet what happens if it loses more than half of its population in the period of a century? And what happens if this is done by choice? Throughout human history, population loss is typically tied to factors like disease, ecological conditions, and war, not by a populace who isn’t interested in having more children.
A thought: what if we end up in a Children of Men type world that is brought about because humans simply don’t want to have children anymore?