China’s nervousness about the difficulties arising from China’s one-child policy has worked its way into public debate in Japan about the readiness of the population to face concerns of China’s aging populations. The press for many years has played a leading role in articulating the concerns in the discussion.

In the Age of Cleavage for Sex: Japan and the Geography of Aging Japanese preachers tend to keep it vague, but the pervasive concern is that the population is simply too old. Generation X/Y has reached a certain age, they warn, and that means the whole country will eventually be burdened by the burden of extra generations as baby boomers retire. And Japan could depend only on its dwindling population of young people who eventually will be enabled to have fewer children.

With its population between the ages of 20 and 79 projected to decrease from 126 million in 2011 to 93 million in 2050, Japan faces a ticking population time bomb. In January, more than 100,000 people from 29 prefectures in Japan made the painful decision to formally request that they be allowed to leave their regional ship in return for their families and to have greater freedom. The first ship, a 75-year-old Zenke Mitsuda to Jinjiang, was ordered to return home in December.

Many Japanese adults who are saving for their retirement say they can not afford to live on pensions alone. Japan, the so-called cradle of high birthrates, now has a low fertility rate of just 0.7 births per woman. The country has one of the oldest populations of any developed country.

The ship debate has generated a heated debate in Japan. The national news, however, has been notably more interested in violent crime stories and data about North Korea.