Munich Personal RePEc Archive

A shrinking population offers opportunities for a sustainable Japan

Lans, Cheryl (2012): A shrinking population offers opportunities for a sustainable Japan. Published in:

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Japan’s Edo period may represent the good society more than modern day society; it was sustainable and self reliant. Japan and other Asian countries now have a decreasing population. World population has increased from 2.5 billion in 1950 to over 7 billion today and there are some who think the earth’s carrying capacity has been exceeded. Japan’s land area is slightly smaller than the state of California and its population density is 836 per square mile, far higher than Canada at 9, Sweden at 57, France at 289 and even Haiti at 781 . This high density is reflected in the need for order, oshiyas to push people into trains and the focus on miniaturization (bonsai, sushi, calculators, compact discs, cameras and compact cars). The population during the Edo period was 30 million and Japan was self-sufficient during that time; very little was imported . In the 1990s Japan only provided one-third of its needs and imported 27 million tons of grain . Currently Japan imports 78% of its energy, 60% of its food and 82% of its construction timber . The Edo period included innovation such the mechanized dolls that became the robots of today. Therefore a large population is not needed for innovation.

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