[Kyoto, Japan] – Most investors are at least passingly familiar with the fact that Japan's demographics are the worst on the planet because the country is "aging" so fast.
What they're missing is just how massive an opportunity that is for the right investments.
And that's what we're going to talk about today, including three specifics that will get you started.
What a "Celibacy Syndrome" Has Done to Japan
I've been coming to Japan for nearly 30 years and living here part time every year for the past 20 as a father, husband, and businessman.
It's one thing to talk about the graying of Japan like we do so frequently in the West – meaning how rapidly the population is aging – and entirely another to see it up close.
Every time I roll off the plane I'm simply stunned by how striking the demographic changes taking place here really are.
…Nearly 900 towns and villages will be extinct by 2040.
…Japan's population growth is so low that the total number of people living here will fall by 35% to only 83 million by 2100 – only 84 years from now.
…The birth rate is so low that the last Japanese citizen may be born in less than 1,000 years.
The airport, bus stations, super markets, it doesn't really matter… everywhere you look you're surrounded by an elderly population, some 33% of which is over the age of 60.
Children – especially infants – are becoming an increasingly rare sight if you're not near a shopping center or school yard. The rate of decline is so stark that at this pace, Japan will have one child to celebrate Children's Day on May 5, 3011, according to Tohoku University Economics Professor Hiroshi Yoshida.
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Take a spin into the countryside like I do frequently on my motorcycles, and the problem is even more graphic.
More than 8 million of the nation's 60 million homes are abandoned, according to the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry. Schools have closed, once-fertile rice fields lay fallow, and there are no public services.
Entire communities are doing anything they can to attract people, however desperate that may seem.
A few years back, for example, Mishima Village in Kyushu decided to give away free cows to attract young farmers… and there was only one taker. New rice, free schooling, free medical care… these are but a few of the gambits intended to attract more people.
As you might imagine, the economic impact is extreme.
A reduced population means smaller tax receipts which, in turn, mean fewer and more expensive public services, if they exist at all. Many of the small towns I ride through remind me of Detroit, minus the crime, as hard as that is to imagine.
The situation will not change any time soon.
A new study provides startlingly graphic evidence as to why… very few people are getting "busy" – and yes, I mean exactly what you think I mean: they're not having sex.
According to a new Japanese population study from the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, 70% of young men between the age of 18 and 34 don't have a girlfriend/partner, nor did 60% of women the same age.
And here's the part that really cuts to the chase… more than 40% of those same young men and women aged 18-34 have no sexual experience whatsoever. And the figure is going up.
Over half of the survey's respondents say they have no chance of meeting the right partner. Less than 10% of young men want their future partner – if they actually do meet one – to be a housewife or mother. I was unable to find statistics on same-sex couples but cannot imagine the numbers are much different.
These numbers really hit home around the dinner table. I've got several nieces and nephews who are part of the generation we're talking about. Not only are they struggling to have any sort of relationship, but they've moved home, too, further compounding the issue.
Barring some very graphic changes, demographic disaster is inevitable.
- Consumer spending is declining and will continue to decline for as long as demographics do.
- Construction spending, once the domain of large public works projects used to compensate for earlier periods of economic weakness, will decline because there are no workers even though there is money.
- Political upheaval is inevitable as older people shift to more socialist policies intended to preserve what they have. This is already limiting innovation and commercialization resources, and will continue to do so.
- More stimulus efforts, a la Abenomics, will not work because aging populations are not as interest rate sensitive as younger people. Financial velocity will slow because older people tend to be creditors, not debtors – a lesson our Fed and the ECB would be wise to learn.
Three Profit Plays as Japan Bends to Demographic Reality
About the Author
Keith Fitz-Gerald has been the Chief Investment Strategist for the Money Morning team since 2007. He's a seasoned market analyst with decades of experience, and a highly accurate track record. Keith regularly travels the world in search of investment opportunities others don't yet see or understand. In addition to heading The Money Map Report, Keith runs High Velocity Profits, which aims to get in, target gains, and get out clean, and he's also the founding editor of Straight Line Profits, a service devoted to revealing the "dark side" of Wall Street... In his weekly Total Wealth, Keith has broken down his 30-plus years of success into three parts: Trends, Risk Assessment, and Tactics – meaning the exact techniques for making money. Sign up is free at totalwealthresearch.com.