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love or country?

A deeper look into an article from NEWSWEEK, February 5, 2007
One Son's Choice: Love or Country? / by Nadine Chaffee

According to the February 5, 2007 NEWSWEEK, in contrast to the United States where, as of today, 26 of 50 states have passed constitutional amendments to deny gay civil rights, Canada has legalized same-sex marriage and has gay-friendly immigration laws. The country’s reluctance to accept gay marriage forces people, often hardworking, tax-paying, law-abiding young men liked by teachers, co-workers and bosses, cats, dogs, and little old ladies, to move away from their homes and their families. In an article from the San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco’s most widely read local newspaper, “As long as the United States is continuing to be oppressive in their lack of sanctity of unions for gays and lesbians, then they’re going to continue to lose really good citizens”, and workers.





Mentioned earlier in “1.2 babies in her life time”, an average woman in Japan will only give birth to 1.2 babies in her life time, and is becoming a great social concern as the Japanese work force continues to shrink.

According to the “Statistical Handbook of Japan 2006” issued by the Statistic Bureau and Statistical Research and Training Institute, a department of the Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, “In 2005, the population of elderly citizens (65 years and over) was 26.82 million, constituting 21.0 percent of the total population and marking record highs in both number and percentage terms. The speed of aging of Japan's population is much faster than in advanced Western European countries or the US.” While the population of elderly in Japan accounted for only 7.1 percent of the total population in 1970, 24 years later in 1994, it had nearly doubled to 14.1 percent. “In other countries with an aged population, it took 61 years in Italy, 85 years in Sweden, and 115 years in France for the percentage of the elderly to increase from 7 percent to 14 percent of the population. These comparisons highlight the rapid progress of demographic aging in Japan.”

“On the other hand, the percentage of younger age population in Japan (0-14 years) has been shrinking since 1982. In 2005, the younger age population amounted to 17.40 million, accounting for 13.6 percent of the total population, the lowest level on record since the Population Census began. The working-age population (15-64 years) totaled 83.37 million, continuing its decline from the year before. In share terms, it accounted for 65.3 percent of the entire population. As a result, the ratio of the dependent population (the sum of the elderly and younger age population divided by the working-age population) was 53.0 percent. In terms of their proportion of the total population, the elderly have surpassed the younger age group since 1997.”

Although Japan has not yet seen an explosion of a nation wide debate over gay marriage, it is only a matter of time with the coming out of so many gay men in Japan. If Japan is reluctant to accept gay marriage, more men who constitute Japan’s limited working population would leave Japan for, say, Canada, a popular destination for working holidays and where it is fairly easy to obtain residential status. It would be wrong for Japan to brush of gay marriage debates in US and other nations around the world simply as another country’s problem.

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