Musk’s tweet about Japan doomed by low birth rate sparks anger – but not just at him

Children walk on their way home from school in Tokyo June 30, 2006. REUTERS/Toshiyuki Aizawa/File Photo

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TOKYO, May 9 (Reuters) – A tweet from Elon Musk saying Japan would “eventually cease to exist” without a higher birth rate sparked a flood of sarcasm and anger on Monday – although much angst was aimed at a Japanese government. bit to solve the problem.

Musk, the head of electric vehicle maker Tesla Inc (TSLA.O), tweeted over the weekend: “At the risk of stating the obvious, unless something changes so that the birth rate exceeds the death rate. mortality, Japan will eventually cease to exist. It would be a great loss to the world.”

The comment struck a nerve among Japanese watchers and in Japan, whose population peaked in 2008 and has since declined due to its low birth rate at around 125 million last year despite government warnings and sporadic attempts to tackle the problem.

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But Japan remains the world’s third-largest economy, home to global heavyweights ranging from automakers to game developers, and is a key link in global semiconductor supply chains.

“What’s even the point of tweeting that?” wrote Tobias Harris, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.

“The concerns surrounding Japan’s demographic future are not that ‘Japan will eventually cease to exist’ but rather the deep social dislocations occurring as a result of the decline to a lower population level.”

Others noted that sluggish birth rates plague many countries besides Japan, including Germany – where Tesla just opened a new factory – and that Japan was simply hit first.

But many Japanese commentators said the situation was unsurprising and blamed their government for not doing enough to combat it, such as providing more child care and making it easier for women to return to work after having had children.

“They keep saying the birth rate is going down, but given that the government is not taking thorough action 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 ‘OK, let’s have a baby’? I despair for Japan.”

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Reporting by Elaine Lies; Editing by Christopher Cushing

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