Now we see the real Japan, warts and all. Their population is actually shrinking (has been for years) so precipitously that the big industrial companies years ago began developing personal robots.
These aren't meant to weld cars together or assemble little electronic thingies, but to wait on people. The expectation is that before long there will not be enough care givers left to look after Japan's elderly. These robots are supposed to clean their houses, cook and serve their meals, and I suppose even keep them company.
I read an interesting article yesterday in The Guardian explaining Japan's dilemma: Educated Japanese women today don't want to give up their careers / independence, and Japanese men no longer feel economically secure enough to provide for a family. (Women who continue to work after marriage are called "devil wives". Ouch!) Therefore many just forgo romantic involvement / marriage all together.
Apparently Japanese employers assume a female employee will immediately start having kids after marriage, so they kill off their careers. And with "lifetime employment" agreements between companies and employees going the way of the Dodo bird, many men are scared they won't be able to provide for a wife and kids. Many never marry at all, and a sizable number still live in mama's basement (for real).
Quite a fall from the heady days of Japan, Inc, huh?
This morning on the news they showed pictures of the worst smog I think I've ever seen. It was in China, and was so bad (5x the level considered "unhealthy") you couldn't see across the street. They also supposedly have a looming catastrophic water shortage, a "house of cards" banking system, and an increasingly restless rural population yearning to enjoy "the good life" like their city cousins.
We always hear about their exploding economy, but rarely about these kinds of crushing problems just below the surface. I wonder if we'll be looking back on "China, Inc" 20/30 years from now and wonder what all the fuss was about?
Perhaps so, assuming we can get our s__t back together by then, too. I'm thinking the recent slap-down of the Tea Party was a step in the right direction. Now we can take a good, hard, realistic look at where we are and where we need to go, without having to listen to the demagoguery of nut cases like Sen. Ted Cruz. *back in your hole, Ted*