From Tokyo to Beijing, growing old is hard to do

Japan has already struck bitter peace with demographics reality, while China must prepare for challenge
of population decline and ageing

An elderly woman walks though an alley at a market in Tokyo on Nov 21, 2020. PHOTO: AFP

(FINANCIAL TIMES) Sometime later this month, Japan will release the first estimate of births and deaths for this year - an annual gift from the Health Ministry that arrives around Dec 25 with all the seasonal joy of a broken boiler.

For the past 13 years, this release has delivered evidence of Japan's shrinking indigenous population and its darkening demographic shadow via a series of bleak milestones. These seem all the starker for their stubborn resistance to remedy and for the cautionary road map they provide the outside world.

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