The Culture of Death is now so firmly entrenched within Japanese society that even married couples widely resort to abortion. The result is that, though many countries have birthrates below the replacement rate of 2.1, Japan's ranks near the bottom at 1.4 or 7.8 births per 1,000 people.
Last year, Japan registered 981,000 births — the lowest number since the government conducted its first census in 1899 and the largest net decrease in almost a decade of continuous population decline. The U.S. census analysts project that by 2050, Japan's population will fall from 126 million today to 107 million; at that time, 40 percent of the country's remaining population will be over age 65.
As a result, the government is increasingly concerned over the prospect of a declining tax base and resulting degradation of social and physical infrastructure.
Private industry is also threatened by the collapse. A 2015 report notes, "Due to a shrinking population, labor shortages are predicted for Japan." To manage its looming workforce problem, private industry is turning to mechanization. As people gradually disappear from Japan, robots are being created to take their place.
In an interview last month with CNBC, Rob Subbaraman, chief economist for Asia ex-Japan at Nomura, noted:
If you don't embrace these new artificial intelligence, robotics and ways to make up for shortages of youth labor, you're going to have a slowdown of potential growth ... Because Japan's got a falling and aging population, it really needs machines, A.I. and all this to start replacing labor.
According to a 2016 White House report to Congress, there are 1,562 robots per 10,000 automotive workers in Japan, compared to 1,133 in Germany and 1,091 in the United States. Japan also leads in robots per worker in other industrial sectors, with 219 per 10,000 workers, compared with 147 in Germany and 76 in the United States. Some estimates show robots "taking over" half the country's jobs within 20 years.
The legacy of contraception and abortion in Japan is traced to 1948, to the passage of the Eugenic Protection Law.
In the first year after legalization, the government recorded almost a quarter-million abortions. Five years later, more than 1 million were occurring annually. Though the rate subsequently declined, from 1949 to 2015, the number of officially recorded abortions was more than 38 million.
In recent years, a small but growing pro-life movement has taken root in Japan. In 2014, Japanese laymen launched an annual March for Life. This year's march was held on July 17 (the country's national holiday) in central Tokyo, beginning with a special Mass at Tsukiji Catholic Church, the capital's first cathedral.
Japan has a Catholic population of approximately half a million.