Japan has always been a famously closed society, almost to the point of legend. This closed nature has traditionally meant a very hard time for foreign immigrants to Japan. Combine that with a population that, government estimates say, will shrink from 127 million to 90 million over the next 50 years (that’s 30%!), while its population ages demographically. Most shrinking populations do that, unless they’re shrinking because of plague — and sometimes even then.
An interesting article by Hiroku Tabuchi in today’s New York Times discusses this widespread problems being called by Japan’s unwillingness to bring in immigrants as skilled workers to combat its ongoing problems — particularly in the healthcare arena, which is the sector in which the U.S. is having similar problems.