The novelist PD James died a few months ago; known mainly as a writer of detective fiction, not much coverage was given to her brilliant 1992 non-detective novel, The Children of Men that imagines a dystopian United Kingdom in 2021. In the novel the country is steadily ageing and depopulating the last human to be born was in 1995, but has been killed in a pub brawl in Buenos Aires. As a result of sperm counts dropping to zero mankind faces extinction and novel takes us on a journey through the horrifying consequences. The sexual act has become so unappealing and devoid of all meaning that the state sponsors pornography centres to encourage the flagging libido, just in case a baby might be born. Dolls are dressed up as babies. Puppies and kittens are doted on and treated as infants, pushed around in prams and dressed up in children’s clothing and even christened in religious like ceremonies. Society has lost all interest in politics and is now governed by a despot named the Warden of England.
Due to a depleting population, foreign workers are imported into the country to be exploited from poorer countries. These are called the sojourners, who once they reach the age of 60 are sent back home – to be less of a burden on the welfare system. Native citizens are not allowed to emigrate to prevent further loss of labour. There are too many old people and they have become a burden on society being unproductive and a cost to the state. There are few nursing homes and the rest are forced into committing suicide by taking part in the Quietus – state sponsored mass drowning. The youngest generation – The Omegas are spoilt rotten, violent and unpredictable, regarding their elders with little more than contempt.
If there is any society that resembles The Children of Men it’s Japan. Let’s take a look at Japan’s fertility figures. In 2012 the fertility rate was 1.4 live births per couple. Japan along with, Spain (1.3), Italy (1.4), and Greece (1.3) has one of the lowest fertility rates in the world. The replacement rate needed for a healthy society is 2.1. The population under 15 years old is 16.6 million (13.2 per cent of the total population) while the numbers for the over 65s is over 23%. The percentage of the population aged 65 or over is now the highest in the world, followed by Germany and Italy both standing at 20.4%. At this rate Japan will have no children left by 3011. It is reckoned that in 50 years the population of Japan will shrink to about 87 million people. Lots of old people and very few young ones. Experts say that Japans population will decrease by one million every year in the coming decades. The sale of adult nappies in Japan has recently surpassed that of children.
Japan faces another problem – who’s going to pay for all the pensioners? In Children of Men it’s the sojourners. In Europe it is covered by Muslim immigration, but Japan doesn’t particularly like immigrations and has no interest in importing any. Foreigners account for just 1.1% of the workforce, by comparison official figures for Germany is 9.4% and UK 7.7%. So all this obviously causes a mounting pensions crisis. Who’s going to staff the hospitals, man the factories, build the roads, do the jobs nobody else wants to do? Maybe get robots to do it.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Japan seems to be suffering from “celibacy syndrome”. The under 40s have appeared to have lost interest in normal relationships. Dating, kissing, having sex all that stuff to do with human contact – they just can’t be bothered with. A survey found that 61% of unmarried men and 49% of unmarried women aged 18-34 were in no kind of sexual relationship. Another study found that a third of people under 30 had never even dated. Japan’s Family Planning Association found that 45% of women between 16-24 despised and had no interest in sexual contact as did over 25% of men. And let’s not even get into Tokyo’s Cat cafes, where for a cover fee you can spend a lazy afternoon stroking and petting feline baby substitute. Like Children of men, pornography or virtual sex has replaced the real thing, with most people preferring to be sexted rather than doing the real thing. PD James writes, “Women complain increasingly of what they describe as painful orgasms: the spasm achieved but not the pleasure. Pages are devoted to this common phenomenon in the women’s magazines”.
As PD James knew, a society, which is totally atomised and lives in the present (Ipad YouTube), resents the past and believes in nothing will slowly give up having children. A society, which stops having children, is literally a dead society.