By Elaine Lies
TOKYO (Reuters) – An Elon Musk tweet saying that Japan “would eventually cease to exist” without a higher birth rate triggered a flood of sarcasm and anger on Monday – although much of the anxiety was directed at a Japanese government as many said did little to address. the problem.
Musk, the head of electric car maker Tesla Inc, tweeted over the weekend: “At the risk of saying the obvious, unless something is changed to make the birth rate exceed the death rate, Japan will eventually cease to exist. This would be a huge loss to the world. . “
The comment hit a nerve among Japan viewers and in Japan, whose population peaked in 2008 and has declined since due to the low birth rate to around 1[ads1]25 million from last year despite government warnings and sporadic attempts to tackle the problem.
But Japan is still the world’s third largest economy, hosting global heavyweights ranging from automakers to game developers, and is a key player in global semiconductor supply chains.
“What’s the point of tweeting this?” wrote Tobias Harris, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.
“The concern about Japan’s demographic future is not that ‘Japan will eventually cease to exist’, but rather the deep social dislocations that arise as a result of the decline to a lower population level.”
Others noted that low birth rates plague many nations besides Japan, including Germany – where Tesla has just opened a new factory – and that Japan was simply hit first.
However, many Japanese commentators said the situation was not surprising and criticized their government for not doing enough to combat it, such as providing more kindergartens and making it easier for women to return to work after having children.
“They continue to say that the birth rate is falling, but given that the government is not taking thorough steps to deal with it, what can we say? Everything they say and do is contradictory,” wrote Twitter user SROFF.
“In this environment, who’s going to say ‘Okay, let’s have a baby’? I despair for Japan.”
(Reporting by Elaine Lies; Editing by Christopher Cushing)