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Why Japan's Elderly Are Endangering Its Military

December 16, 2015 Topic: Society Region: Asia Tags: JapanShinzo AbeDefensePacifismDemographics

Why Japan's Elderly Are Endangering Its Military

Dramatic demographic shifts are challenging Abe's plans to expand the ambit of Japan's defense force.

The numbers are known; national demographics can be measured and projected with impressive accuracy into the future. What is unknown, however, should worry all nations invested in the region, including the United States. Will Asia’s aging societies—Japan foremost among them—usher in a future peace dividend in which social security is prioritized over national security? Or, will rapid demographic shifts, imbalances and the fear of decline destabilize societies, giving rise to a violent form of nationalism and, perhaps, to conflict?

Yoichi Funabashi is chairman of the Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation, a Tokyo-based think tank, and director of The Special Investigation Commission on Population Issues.

Image: Flickr/U.S. Pacific Fleet