Asia Population and Development Association
This publication entitled " A Review of Population Issue − Conditions for Human Survival and Future of Human Society" is a record of an open forum held at the Main Conference Room of Japan Press Center in Hibiya, Tokyo on March 26, 2002 in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Asia Population and Development Association.
Needless to say, population is the most important issue that has direct bearing on the future of humanity, conservation of the global environment and pursuit for peaceful coexistence between the Earth and humanity. Nevertheless, interest in this issue is dwindling in Japan today.
Japan succeeded in attaining the transition from high fertility and mortality rates to low fertility and mortality rates (demographic transition) in an extremely short period of time after the Second World War and the experience was seen as "miracle" by the rest of the world. As a result, the population issue in the sense of dealing with excessive population no longer exists in Japan today. In fact, dwindling birthrate and aging population that inevitably emerge as a result of this demographic transition is generating pressure to carry out a major transformation of social structure and take urgent measures against this issue.
Meanwhile, population continues to increase amidst poverty in the least among less-developed countries of the world and is predicted to exceed 9 billion by the middle of the 21st Century. It is an astounding number when seen in the context of the Earth's carrying capacity with no guarantee that the Earth can support population of such magnitude. For instance, it is not commonly known that humanity is already using more than 50 percent of freshwater resources that are available to them. It is also said that no additional freshwater is available for human consumption.
However, freshwater is indispensable for food production and as drinking water and industrial water. The impact of adding another 3 billion to the population on the human society defies our imagination.
The Asian Population and Development Association (APDA) is the only NGO in Japan working in the interrelated fields of population and sustainable development. APDA was founded in 1982 with the main aim of conducting research on population and sustainable development while engaging in educational campaign on the subject of population and sustainable development while supporting parliamentarian activities related to the issue of population and development. Through its activities, APDA has been offering a wide range of proposals and data in connection with the issue of population and sustainable development.
Waning interest in the population issue among the majority of the Japanese people is a serious problem for a NGO working to solve the population issue. The single largest factor behind such phenomenon is the fact that population issue has become irrelevant to the people. However, a country's problem will exert serious influence to the rest of the world with the advancement of globalisation. A large food-importing country like Japan will be affected directly by these changes. Moreover, dwindling birthrate and aging population, which is the most urgent issue that Japan must address today, emerged as a consequence of demographic transition. Japan enjoyed a demographic bonus of having small elderly and young dependency population and large labour force population during her high-growth period that contributed enormously to the economic development of the country. The current dwindling birthrate and aging population is evidently a population issue in the sense that it emerged as a result of the aging of the population that was active during the economic growth period and dwindling of birthrate at an unexpectedly high rate.
Another main cause behind the obscurity of the population issue in the present day in Japan is the specialised and unfamiliar nature of its terminology that is making demographic subjects alien to the general public. The activities of different groups working in their respective fields of interest are also making it very difficult to understand what constitutes a population issue.
The keywords colouring today's population issue include "reproductive health", "reproductive rights", "HIV/AIDS", "empowerment of women", "refugees", "displaced persons", "gender", "violence against women", etc. Numerous terms have their own meanings and activities related to these terms are being carried out by an array of organisations based on their own interest. As a result, the issue has become very diverse, making it quite difficult to see the overall picture and understand what impact it will have on our lives and our future.
While this multitude of activities and terms represents the permeation of population issues, it is accelerating the waning of public interest in this issue at the same time.
APDA thought that the most important task in regaining people's interest in the population issue is to spread the understanding of what population issue is. For this purpose, it is important to take a bird's-eye-view of a range of population issues that have become overly diverse and grasp their essence. The purpose of the 20th Anniversary International Forum therefore lied in creating an opportunity for regaining the interest of the Japanese people in the population issue through such effort.
Our hope is to back the efforts for solving the population issues of the world by regaining the interest of the Japanese people and offering support for the international efforts actively being pursued by the Japanese government from the public opinion side.
Consequently, prominent lecturers that are world-class in their respective fields were invited to give their talks at the International Forum. We asked Dr. Takanori Matsui, Professor of the University of Tokyo to deliver the keynote address. The First Session entitled "What are Population Issues?- Focusing on Environment, Biology, and Food-Conditions of Human Survival" was moderated by Dr. Shigeto Kawano, who is Professor Emeritus at the University of Tokyo and Person of Cultural Merit, and consisted of lectures entitled " From the Viewpoint of a Biologist" by Dr. Motonori Hoshi, Professor of Keio University and Professor Emeritus at Tokyo Institute of Technology "From the Viewpoint of Environment" by Dr. Takeshi Hara, Professor of Waseda University, and "From the Viewpoint of Food Production" by Dr. Zenbei Uchijima, President of Miyazaki Municipal University.
The Second Session was entitled " What are Population Issues? - Focusing on Public Health, Social System, and Bioethics - Future of Human Society" and was moderated by Dr. Toshio Kuroda, Chairman of JOICFP. member of board of Directors of APDA. and the U.N. Population Award laureate. This session consisted of lectures entitled "From the Viewpoint of Health" by Dr. Masataka Murakami, Director of Ibaraki Occupational Health Promotion Centre, "Impact of Falling Birth rate and Aging Population on Society" by Dr. Naohiro Ogawa, Deputy Director of Nihon University Population Research Institute (NUPRI) and "From the Viewpoint of Bioethics" by Dr. Hyakudai Sakamoto, Professor Emeritus at Aoyama Gakuin University.
I would like to express my deep appreciation to all the distinguished lecturers representing their field for delivering their valuable lectures amidst their extremely busy schedule. I would also like to thank the Japanese Government. Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries as well as many institutions concerned including UNFPA, IPPF, AFPPD, JOICEF, and NPO 2050 for their support and cooperation.
It would be of utmost pleasure as the publisher of this publication if it could lead to understanding of the population issue and contribute in some way to its solution.
Dr. Taro Nakayama
The Asian Population and Development Association