The sun also sets – and it’s infinitely sad 13

By 2020, in the Land of the Rising Sun, adult diapers will outsell baby diapers: The sun also sets.

Mark Steyn writes about a people – the Japanese – dying out, and reminds us that Europeans are too. Whole nations have embraced “voluntary societal self-extinction”. It could also be called “auto-genocide“.

To Western eyes, contemporary Japan has a kind of earnest childlike wackiness, all karaoke machines and manga cartoons and nuttily sadistic game shows. But, to us demography bores, it’s a sad place that seems to be turning into a theme park of P. D. James’s great dystopian novel The Children of Men. … Baroness James’s tale is set in Britain in the near future, in a world that is infertile: The last newborn babe emerged from the womb in 1995, and since then nothing. … The Japanese seem determined to live up to the book’s every telling detail.

In Lady James’s speculative fiction, pets are doted on as child-substitutes, and churches hold christening ceremonies for cats. In contemporary Japanese reality, Tokyo has some 40 “cat cafés” where lonely solitary citizens can while away an afternoon by renting a feline to touch and pet for a couple of companionable hours. In Lady James’s speculative fiction, all the unneeded toys are burned, except for the dolls, which childless women seize on as the nearest thing to a baby and wheel through the streets. In contemporary Japanese reality, toy makers, their children’s market dwindling, have instead developed dolls for seniors to be the grandchildren they’ll never have: You can dress them up, and put them in a baby carriage, and the computer chip in the back has several dozen phrases of the kind a real grandchild might use to enable them to engage in rudimentary social pleasantries.

The loneliness, the hopelessness, the frustration of biological purpose and the profound longing it naturally gives rise to – the story is infinitely sad.

P. D. James’s most audacious fancy is that in a barren land sex itself becomes a bit of a chore. The authorities frantically sponsor state porn emporia promoting ever more recherché forms of erotic activity in an effort to reverse the populace’s flagging sexual desire just in case man’s seed should recover its potency. Alas, to no avail. As Lady James writes, “Women complain increasingly of what they describe as painful orgasms: the spasm achieved but not the pleasure. Pages are devoted to this common phenomenon in the women’s magazines.”

As I said, a bold conceit, at least to those who believe that shorn of all those boring procreation hang-ups we can finally be free to indulge our sexual appetites to the full. But it seems the Japanese have embraced the no-sex-please-we’re-dystopian-Brits plot angle, too. …  A survey by the Japan Family Planning Association reported that over a quarter of men aged 16–24 “were not interested in or despised sexual contact.” For women, it was 45 percent. …  49 percent of women under 34 are not in any kind of romantic relationship, and nor are 61 percent of single men. A third of Japanese adults under 30 have never dated. Anyone. Ever. … It’s a flight from human intimacy.

They’re not alone in that, of course. A while back, I flew from a speaking engagement on one side of the Atlantic to a TV booking on the other. And backstage at both events an attractive thirtysomething woman made the same complaint to me. They’d both tried computer dating but were alarmed by the number of chaps who found human contact too much effort: Instead of meeting and kissing and making out and all that other stuff that involves being in the same room, they’d rather you just sexted them and twitpiced a Weineresque selfie or two. As in other areas, the Japanese seem merely to have reached the end point of Western ennui a little earlier.

By 2020, in the Land of the Rising Sun, adult diapers will outsell baby diapers: The sun also sets. In The Children of Men, the barrenness is a medical condition; in real life, in some of the oldest nations on earth, from Madrid to Tokyo, it’s a voluntary societal self-extinction.

In Europe, the demographic death spiral is obscured by high Muslim immigration; in Japan, which retains a cultural aversion to immigration of any kind, there are no foreigners to be the children you couldn’t be bothered having yourself.

In welfare states, the future is premised on social solidarity: The young will pay for the costs of the old. But, as the West ages, social solidarity frays, and in Japan young men aren’t even interested in solidarity with young women, and young women can’t afford solidarity with bonnie bairns. So an elderly population in need of warm bodies to man the hospital wards and senior centers is already turning to robot technology. If manga and anime are any indication, the post-human nurses and waitresses will be cute enough to make passable sex partners — for anyone who can still be bothered.

Posted under Commentary, Demography, Europe, Japan by Jillian Becker on Thursday, November 14, 2013

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This post has 13 comments.

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  • rogerinflorida

    Another quick thought:
    these developments in Japan may be evolution at work. Japan has achieved a very high standard of living but has a large population, living for the most part in extremely cramped conditions. What the article describes may be an adjustment in DNA directing the people of Japan to stop procreating and therefore ease the overcrowding.

  • rogerinflorida

    The Japanese are not going to go extinct, what will happen is that there will be a large decline in population over a couple of generations, but the rate of decline will lessen and eventually stabilize. At what actual population count the stabilization will be achieved can be modeled using various statistical analysis tools. Japan may very well be vastly improved by the long term drop in population. there is certainly a problem with the intergenerational theft known as public pension schemes but that will solve itself as young people refuse to pay additional taxes and as a result older people who have not saved enough go hungry.
    The real stupidity is in the West where idiot politicians encourage immigration of totally unsuitable replacement populations in an effort to maintain a supportable ratio of taxpayers to retirees. This is clearly unworkable in even the medium term as the replacements will retire and therefore an exponential number of new immigrants will be required.
    Japan will be fine, and probably greatly improved.
    Ms. Becker, there is no substitute anywhere in human society for Euro stock civilization, no other culture has ever, or probably will ever, come anywhere close to the achievements of Europe.

    • Jillian Becker

      Europe became great partly because it was eclectic. It took the best from every other culture it encountered and integrated it. Yes, it is the superior civilization. (Or was.) And the Anglo-Saxons were the spearhead of its civilizational progress. But the Europeans are giving up, dying out, and giving their continent to Islam…

  • Dale Jensen

    I have a question about these demographic projections. The argument is that with low birth rates, ultimately the Japanese will just go extinct. But is that realistic? At some point, won’t children become a prized commodity (to use an expression) and the Japanese people will value family over other things out of necessity? Is it possible that a nation would just let themselves go out of existence? I can’t see that happening. And the good thing about the Japanese is that they don’t allow immigration. They keep themselves a Japanese nation so they won’t experience the hell on earth that the Western nations are going to experience when whites become the minority.

    I actually think Japan is the best situated nation on earth largely because they are proudly homogenous and will never abandon that. I wish America were an exclusively Euro stock country. I’m pissing upstream with that though.

    • liz

      I don’t get why the Japanese, who are so smart in some ways, such as not allowing immigration (especially of Muslims), or building robots, can be so clueless in others. It must be low testosterone levels or something, but their lack of interest in sex is baffling.
      Maybe they will come to their senses before the go out of existence, but if they wait till the majority of their population is too old to put up a fight, some other country might do it for them.

    • Jillian Becker

      Dale – have you read Mark Steyn’s book “America Alone”? He doesn’t – can’t – explain for sure why fertility rates went down in the developed world, but he does make it clear that once they have reached a certain low level in a particular nation, there is no recovery. The Russians now are halving in number with each generation. So are many others. To stabilize a population the fertility rate needs to be at 2.1. Nations at about 1.0 – two parents having one child – are doomed to extinction.

      • Dale Jensen

        I haven’t read Steyn’s book. I think I will. But it seems to me that the assumption is that fertility rates will stay the same. Is that a legitimate assumption? Why wouldn’t rates start to rise when children are deemed as more valuable than other uses of time? Which is what has happened post 1960s – people value other things more than children. In other words, why are we assuming that a type of homeostasis can’t be reached?

        • Jillian Becker

          Fair question. I don’t know. One thing about the way the world’s going, it reconciles one to leaving it. Indeed, if it wasn’t that I worry for my grandchildren, it would make me positively look forward to leaving it. But meanwhile there is laughter still … and “cakes and ale” …

    • Jillian Becker

      “Eurostock” doesn’t guarantee avoidance of hell on earth. Remember the Inquisition, the hell it made wherever it could reach. Remember Calvin (put his name in our search slot if you haven’t read about the hell he made of Geneva). Remember the Holocaust. Remember the hell of Stalin’s Russia and the hells his puppet dictators made in Eastern Europe. I think the British Empire did much more good than harm (no matter what the Left says to the contrary), but the American Republic, founded to preserve individual freedom, was the greatest political idea ever – and, yes, it was a European idea. The Republic thrived as long as it was a melting pot of nationalities from every inhabited continent. But then the twin evils of socialism and multiculturalism began to work its undoing, Now those who escape the hells of the Third World are allowed, even positively encouraged, to re-ignite their cultural hells here.

      • Dale Jensen

        “Eurostock” doesn’t guarantee avoidance of hell on earth.

        True. But I think that so long as there is racial homogeneity, a culture can rebuild much more quickly when it needs to. There are scary possibilities when you speculate about the future. What if whites should become minorities in their former countries? Could we see the genocide of whites? That would be a hell on earth for whites far greater than anything imaginable. I think that there is a deep seated hatred of whites by every other race on earth. Why? Because of envy.

        The saddest realization that I have had recently is that the Founding Father’s ideology was naive. Their belief in “the universal brotherhood of man” or that “all men are created equal” or even of universal individualism may all turn out to be folly. In the end there may be nothing more than in-group allegiance. If that is the case, whites are committing suicide.

        The Japanese may be destroying themselves with their low birth rates. But I sense that if their population should dwindle, they will still not allow immigration but will mandate child birth. They will probably abandon whatever Westernization they have gone through and return to a more traditional society. Which means women’s sexual freedom will come to an end. They will do this but Caucasians won’t. We’ll let women continue to be sluts while we import non-whites from around the globe.

        May the non-existant Christian god have mercy on our souls. Forgive me, but its tough for me to be positive when I look at the world around me. I truly hope I am wrong about everything.

        • liz

          The genocide of whites is already in the making in South Africa, as has been pointed out on a post here recently. So that is not far-fetched al all. One of the tactics of the Left, evident since the 60’s Black Panther movement, is to stir up racial hatred among blacks and use it to destroy whites and thus society, which they will then supposedly replace with their utopian lalaland.
          I agree that the Founders ideal was in some ways naïve, although they foresaw a lot of the problems that would develop, which is why they put all the checks and balances in their design. But even with the checks and balances, those scheming for power have found ways around them, til, little by little, the whole thing seems doomed to fall apart as their tentacles permeate it.

        • Don L

          IMO the Founders’ did not believe in a universal brotherhood nor that everybody was equal. They believed that all rational and reasoning men/women sought to be free and that all are equal before the law instituted by the governed…a significant difference from the connotation I got from your comment.

          The envy is real, but it is a manufactured perception predicated on the irrational but highly appealing emotional appeal of the Marxist/socialist/left/
          progressive crap about classes that is spewed across the planet (Marx, nor anyone else, has ever been able to define nor defend this economics-absurd notion–feels & sounds good to fools). And, promoting this idea is good as deflection by tyrants (It’s the US’s fault) and leftists seeking to attain, maintain and expand central control.

          In Arizona we see evidence where the Mexican government and hispanic activists encourage having children as a means of retaking territory. I believe I’ve seen articles where the mu-slimes encourage the same toward their caliphate stupidity.

        • carpe diem 36

          you are not. look at scandinavia, a homogenuous society letting moslems into their countries and with a high increase in birth will eventually overwhelm the place and become the majority. look at china with one child policy, they will not be able to replace themselves with every family opts for a son, no birth rate. now they see it and changed the policy but a whole generation of single people will not create families so it is doomed to fail. china will diminish itself for a long time.