Japan Has Aged Out of its Economic Miracle

Demography is destiny, and Japan’s population is getting too old for the country’s economic health

3 min read
Japan Has Aged Out of its Economic Miracle

graph of japan's aging populationDecline and Fall: Japan’s population is aging faster than that of any other major economic power, even as its numbers decline. Few young people will be left to care for the millions of older ones.Source: IPSS (National Institute of Population and Social Security Research)

On 2 September 1945, representatives of the Japanese government signed the instrument of surrender on the deck of the USS Missouri, anchored in Tokyo Bay. So ended perhaps the most reckless of all modern wars, the outcome of which was decided by U.S. technical superiority even before it started. Japan lost in material terms even before it attacked Pearl Harbor: In 1940 the United States produced roughly 10 times as much steel as Japan did, and during the war the difference grew further.

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This photograph shows a car with the words “We Drive Solar” on the door, connected to a charging station. A windmill can be seen in the background.

The Dutch city of Utrecht is embracing vehicle-to-grid technology, an example of which is shown here—an EV connected to a bidirectional charger. The historic Rijn en Zon windmill provides a fitting background for this scene.

We Drive Solar

Hundreds of charging stations for electric vehicles dot Utrecht’s urban landscape in the Netherlands like little electric mushrooms. Unlike those you may have grown accustomed to seeing, many of these stations don’t just charge electric cars—they can also send power from vehicle batteries to the local utility grid for use by homes and businesses.

Debates over the feasibility and value of such vehicle-to-grid technology go back decades. Those arguments are not yet settled. But big automakers like Volkswagen, Nissan, and Hyundai have moved to produce the kinds of cars that can use such bidirectional chargers—alongside similar vehicle-to-home technology, whereby your car can power your house, say, during a blackout, as promoted by Ford with its new F-150 Lightning. Given the rapid uptake of electric vehicles, many people are thinking hard about how to make the best use of all that rolling battery power.

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