Sunday, April 5, 2015

Shamugam borrowing Japan's ageing society experience

Shanmugam probably wanted to share this with his Facebook followers to reinforce the gravity of the issue of an ageing population.

The BBC story is very well thought out and written. It doesn't just present you with chock-full of statistics which few readers would connect with. I think that is what Shanmugam wanted to borrow and convey the urgent or more likely almost too late already message.

Japan has missed the boat to solve this problem. You must have immense faith to be optimistic about Japan's future. By 2050 its population will halve but big troubles will keep appearing long before they get in 35 years.

I see Japan's problem of ageing in two ways.

Firstly, at the family and gender level there are mostly disincentives to have more babies in an industrial and post industrial society. Either they were living off the land where many hands are needed to farm or they were mad enough, and they were for a while to have kids just to feed the war machine. If they have neither, women doesn't want to have kids.

Secondly, which I don't read anyone explaining this. Immigration is not a solution which even LKY proposed to them. Nobody wants to admit that to Japanese society immigration is just another path to the death of Japanese society. Persuading them to absorb more foreigners is a waste of time.

Now I am not blogging about Japan unless there are lessons for us.

We are an immigrant society but if the pace of intake is too fast to change the fabric of our society in a hurry, that is as good as the death of society like the Borg complex assimilating you in Star Trek. Unlike Japan, Singapore society has no problem becoming something quite different over the long term. However no nation has taken in outsiders as quickly as we had. That was simply presumptuous and stupid.

A population solution that is perceived by society as tantamount of killing off their way of life in a hurry is society's death by other means. If we are going to be finished that way, we might as well be done for without letting people in here in a hurry. The PAP government never understood this. But we have stopped them. I don't know if they get it. Shanmugam made a hopeless point sharing that Facebook post. Don't flog a dead horse. We have to once again stare down the impossible for solutions.

Update: April 6 2:55pm

The Korean experience could be ours too very soon. It will happen too quickly before we have good solutions for except to add more foreigners. There is no perfect answer to this challenge but our insistence in looking for one will condemn us to settle for the solution that we do  not want - more immigrants, knowing that we are severely limited in space and resources.

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