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Japan’s Last Chance to Boost Its Birth Rate (A Warning For the World)



Japan's declining birth rate

Japan is on the verge of whether we can continue functioning as a society.” These are the words of the distressed Prime Minister of Japan, Fumio Kishida. While addressing the island country’s strikingly declining population, one could clearly witness the urgency in Mr. Fumio’s 45-minute speech.

The threat of Japan’s population dropping from 125 million today to 88 million in less than half a century is terrifying. But Japan is not alone when it comes to declining birth rates and an aging population. Developed countries across the world are facing the very same population crisis.

And Japan’s ‘last chance‘ to boost its birth rates is sending shock waves worldwide, warning of a similar fate in the foreseeable future.

Japan’s Demographic Crisis Explained

The worrying trend of falling population growth has persisted for decades. Japan’s annual births have almost halved since the recorded high of 1.5 million in 1982. With the fertility rate at 1.3 (well below the 2.1 needed for a stable population), the leaders are now facing a ballooning elderly population.

The death rate has outpaced the birth in the island country for over a decade now. In addition, overwhelming funds requirements for the aging population’s health care and pensions further put immense strain on the already shrinking workforce.

Exploring the Reasons Behind Low Birth Rates in Japan

One primary reason behind Japan’s current demographic crisis is the high cost of living that makes it difficult for couples to raise children.

According to Jefferies’s research, Japan ranked amongst the top three most expensive places to raise a child after China and South Korea. Even though the country’s economy has stalled since the early 1990s, with the average annual household income declining to $43,000 in 2020 from $50,600 in 1995, the cost of raising children has only increased.

High cost of raising a child in Japan
High cost of raising a child in Japan. Source: DW

The financial burden is further exaggerated by the gender pay gap, with Japanese women earning 26% less than their male counterparts.

Furthermore, Japanese women are torn between raising a family or building a fulfilling career. And the skyrocketing cost of raising a child coupled with almost stagnant salary growth, more women lean towards a child-free life, enjoying their career and freedom above getting married and having children.

All the above and much more complicated reasons have discouraged coupled from starting families – leading to falling birth rates.

Japan in search of solutions

According to Fumio Kishida, 2030 is the ‘last chance’ for japan to reverse its sharply declining birth rates. That’s why his government is strongly encouraging couples to start new families. In addition, establishing a Child-first social economy is at the top of Kishida’s plans, which will be detailed more in the coming months.

“The government will make creation of a ‘children first”

Prime minister Fumio Kishida, japan

The prime minister has also promised to double childhood spending by increasing after-school care initiatives and childcare initiatives. In his recent news conference, Kishida said that his government also plans to provide housing assistance and childcare allowances along with reducing the cost of education and raising the wages of younger individuals.

In the fiscal year 2023, the government allocated 4.8 trillion yen ($36 billion) to a new agency created for children and their families.

But, only some think the policies will be effective.

The world on the path to a demographic crisis

The declining birth rates in major developed countries, including Japan, China, and the US, is a mild way to describe what could become a global demographic crisis.

At 0.79 births per woman, South Korea has the lowest birth rate, followed by China and Japan. Western nations, including the US, with 1.64 births per woman, also witness a fast-aging population.

Birth rate of USA
Source: Statista

Therefore, it’s high time for governments to start looking for short-term and long-term solutions.

China’s three-child policy and Japan’s Child-first nation are the aging countries’ attempts to reverse their declining birth. And while the youth population in the developing world is still growing, many countries like India struggle to create enough jobs for their working people. Here, the immigration economy can be an obvious short-term solution. But its political implication can be hard to overcome.

In the long term, the government must form deeper structural systems to help improve childcare and the cost of raising children.

The Uncertainty of a Better Tomorrow

The falling birth rates bring an existential threat to the world – especially at a time when the majority of women face complications during pregnancy.

But the sad reality is the majority of the world is following the same steps as South Korea and Japan. The skyrocketing cost of living isn’t the only reason. The younger generation doesn’t feel the world is safe, given the uncertainty of a better tomorrow (owing to climate change, threats of nuclear war, and more).

How successful Japan’s new Child-first social economy will be decided in the future. But despite the current policies, it’s tough to comeup with a sustainable solution when you leave out 50% of the population (women) out of the decision-making process.

Countries aiming to resatablize their population growth need to be more inclusive with the female representation for creating solution that can get real, tangible results.




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India Ranks 161st in Terms of Journalistic Freedom- RSF



RSF report on World Press Freedom Index

On Wednesday, May 3, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) published the 21st edition of its World Press Freedom Index, and it was unfavourable for India. India has lost 11 places from 2022, when it was ranked 150, to 161st in terms of journalistic freedom. The index ranked 180 countries. Reporters Without Borders (RWB; Reporters sans frontières; RSF) is a worldwide non-profit organisation that has as its stated goal defending the right to freedom of information. According to its advocacy, everyone must have access to news and information, in accordance with Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which recognises the right to receive and share information without regard to national boundaries, and other international human rights treaties.

The embarrassing score of India, according to critics, demonstrates rising hostility and pressure on journalists in India. India is now one of the 31 nations that RSF considers to have “very serious” journalistic conditions. According to the report from Reporters Without Borders, a group that assesses the conditions for journalism worldwide, press freedom in India has gone from “problematic” to “very bad,”.

“The situation has gone from ‘problematic’ to ‘very bad’ in three other countries: Tajikistan (down 1 at 153rd), India (down 11 at 161st) and Turkey (down 16 at 165th),” said the report released on Wednesday, celebrated globally as World Press Freedom Day.

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Methodology of RSF

RSF has consultative status with the International Organisation of the Francophonie, the Council of Europe, the United Nations, and UNESCO.180 nations are included in the index, which rates conditions for journalists. From 0 (worst) to 100 (best), the five “contextual indicators” on which countries are assessed by RSF now replace the seven categories that it used to rate nations until 2021. With a total of 117 questions and sub-questions, these are the following contextual indicators: political context, legal framework, economic context, sociocultural background, and safety.

Following the compilation of the indicators, the countries are divided into five categories: good situation (85–100 points), satisfactory situation (75–85), problematic situation (65–75), difficult situation (45–65), and very serious situation (below 45). India has scored in the last category. According to the report from RSF, press freedom in India has gone from “problematic” to “very bad,”. Therefore, India ranks 161st in terms of journalistic freedom.

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The Remarks of RSF on India

In its opening remarks about why India has been classified this way, RSF states, “The violence against journalists, the politically partisan media and the concentration of media ownership all demonstrate that press freedom is in crisis in “the world’s largest democracy”, ruled since 2014 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the embodiment of the Hindu nationalist right.”

The RSF draws attention to a number of grave issues with India’s media environment, one of which is ownership concentration:

“…the abundance of media outlets conceals tendencies toward the concentration of ownership, with only a handful of sprawling media companies at the national level, including the Times Group, HT Media Ltd, The Hindu Group and Network18. Four dailies share three quarters of the readership in Hindi, the country’s leading language. The concentration is even more marked at the regional level for local language publications such as Kolkata’s Bengali-language Anandabazar Patrika, the Mumbai-based daily Lokmat, published in Marathi, and Malayala Manorama, distributed in southern India. This concentration of ownership in the print media can also be observed in the TV sector with major TV networks such as NDTV. The state-owned All India Radio (AIR) network owns all news radio stations.”

The fact that these businesses and the Modi administration have overtly mutually beneficial partnerships only makes matters worse, it continues: “The prime example is undoubtedly the Reliance Industries group led by Mukesh Ambani, now a personal friend of Modi’s, who owns more than 70 media outlets that are followed by at least 800 million Indians. Similarly, the takeover of the NDTV channel at the end of 2022 by tycoon Gautam Adani, who is also very close to Narendra Modi, signalled the end of pluralism in the mainstream media.”

Anxiety in the newsroom has increased since controversial businessman Gautam Adani declared his plan to take over the channel in a hostile bid last August, and journalists like Ravish Kumar have left their positions as a result. NDTV had employed 48-year-old Ravish for 26 years. He was senior executive editor of the news organisation at the time of his resignation. He was noted for its scathing and critical coverage of public policies and opinions of the current government. These reasons explain why India ranks 161st in terms of journalistic freedom.

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Lack of Diversity in Indian Newsrooms and Harassment of Journalists

RSF claims that there is a dearth of diversity in Indian newsrooms. “For the most part, only Hindu men from upper castes hold senior positions in journalism or are media executives ­– a bias that is reflected in media content. For example, fewer than 15% of the participants in major evening talk shows are women.”

According to RSF, there are many legal methods that those in power harass journalists, including by accusing them of criminal defamation and sedition. “Indian law is protective in theory but charges of defamation, sedition, contempt of court and endangering national security are increasingly used against journalists critical of the government, who are branded as “anti-national”,” the report notes.

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India Ranks Among the Worst Performers in South Asia

India ranks among the worst performers on the rating, even within South Asia as it ranks 161st in terms of press freedom. At 163, Bangladesh performs somewhat worse than Pakistan, while India comes in at 150th, several positions behind Pakistan. With a rating of 152, even Afghanistan, where the Taliban administration is well known for being hostile to independent journalists, has performed better. Sri Lanka is at 135 and Bhutan is at 90. The report also added that the last three slots were occupied by Asian countries.

“The last three places are occupied solely by Asian countries: Vietnam (178th), which has almost completed its hunt of independent reporters and commentators; China (down 4 at 179th), the world’s biggest jailer of journalists and one of the biggest exporters of propaganda content; and, to no great surprise, North Korea (180th),”

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The Indian Press Voices Concern Over RSF Report

The Indian Women’s Press Corps, Press Club of India, and the Press Association released a joint statement voicing their concern over the country’s dip in the index.

“The indices of press freedom have worsened in several countries, including India, according to the latest RSF report,” the joint statement said.

“For developing democracies in the Global South where deep pockets of inequities exist, the media’s role cannot be understated. Likewise the constraints on press freedom due to hostile working conditions like contractorization have to also be challenged. Insecure working conditions can never contribute to a free press,” it added.

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Pakistan Crisis Explained – Looming Threat of a Military Coup



Pakistan crisis

Pakistan Crisis: struggle with terrorism, economy, and political Dispute – over 850 innocent lives lost in Q1 2023.

The South-Asian country is facing a perilous situation with a staggering toll of over 850 innocent lives lost to terror attacks in the first three months of 2023.
As the economy continues to struggle, with long-term allies like China refusing to provide bailouts and political disputes escalating, Pakistan finds itself at a critical crossroads. The judiciary is also not spared from the ongoing tug-of-war.

Now, the big questions are –

  • Can Pakistan recover from its current economic catastrophe?
  • Why terror attacks are on the rise?
  • And is Pakistan on the route of another military coup?

The Economy in Shambles

Over a dozen people were killed as the crowd rushed to grab a pack of flour. Sadly, it’s not an isolated incident.

Ration distribution in Pakistan
Ration distribution in Pakistan (Source: Samaa English)

With inflation at 30% high – the highest recorded in five decades – the costs of essential goods have surged. But the situation only headed south, with Islamabad forced to remove subsidies as Pakistan’s financial support from the IMF dries out.

And all this is happening in a nation still trying to recover from last year’s flood, ravaging the country’s vast swaths in October. A climate catastrophe that killed 1700 people and cost the nation 15 billion USD in damages.

Read More: Pakistan Flood Puts Climate Injustice in the Spotlight: The Age of Catastrophe

On top of it, the currency is in a tailspin. But nobody is ready to help Pakistan bail out.

Why Nobody is Rady to Bailout Pakistan?

In the past, Pakistan has received significant financial aid from countries like UAE and Qatar, amounting to 24.4 billion USD over the last five years, and Chinese commercial banks have loaned over 30 billion USD. These bailouts were primarily driven by humanitarian, common interest, and economic reasons.

However, due to the government’s inability to fulfill previous promises, the countries are reluctant to help Pakistan.

IMF was another major lender of the South-Asian nation. But, the country finds itself caught in a catch-22 situation due to pressures from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to reduce subsidies and curb inflation. On the one hand, to address inflation, the government needs to provide subsidies, but on the other hand, if they cancel subsidies to increase revenue, it may lead to citizen protests.

But this delay in IMF’s bailout comes in contrast to its approval of a 15.6 billion USD loan for Ukraine and the United States’ decision to print 300 billion USD to save a bank in Silicon Valley.

It clearly shows that the priorities of IMF and Western countries are different – which does not include countries like Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

And while stuck in one of the worst economic catastrophes, terror attacks in Pakistan are also on the rise.

The Alarming Surge of Terror Attacks 

Terrorist attacks in Pakistan have been surging since the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, and 2023 has been one of the deadliest years yet.

The devastating bombing in January, which marked one of the deadliest blasts in Pakistan’s history, is sadly not an isolated incident. Since then, several more attacks have resulted in loss of life and widespread destruction.

Peshawar Bomb Attack
Peshawar Bomb Attack (Source BBC)

In Karachi, a police headquarters was targeted, resulting in the deaths of four individuals. In Balochistan’s Khuzdar district, at least two policemen were killed in a “remote-controlled blast,” and another attack in a crowded market in Balochistan claimed four more lives.

February alone recorded 58 terrorist attacks that killed 62 innocent civilians, including security personnel, civilians, and terrorists themselves, with 134 others injured. 

The situation again escalated on March 4th when the TTP targeted a mosque in Peshawar, claiming the lives of around a hundred people, including most police officers. Despite the government’s efforts, the TTP continues to defy authority, leaving the situation seemingly helpless.

These ongoing and frequent terror attacks highlight the persistent threat faced by Pakistan, with innocent lives being lost and communities being affected by violence and instability.

How is the Politics Further Worsening the Pakistan Crisis?

The government is stuck in a complex situation. The Shabbat Sharief government blames its predecessors for all the economic woes. While the former prime minister, Imran Khan, keeps challenging the very establishment. Today, Imran Khan is facing over 30 cases, including terrorism charges.

The government is also locking horns with the judiciary for control over institutions. Judges are openly called out for being biased.

Amidst the deterioration of the government institution, all eyes are now on the military front of Pakistan – where the real power lies.

Given the country’s crumbling economy and politics, will the commander step in as they have done thrice earlier (1958, 1977, and 1999)?

Is a Military Coup Under Way in Pakistan?

The recent stampede in aid distribution centers paints a very dire picture of the Pakistan crisis. However, the country has come a long way since its last coups.

The situation on the ground is getting bad to worse. The desperation of the ordinary hard-working people is on the rise.

Experts fear there might be slight interventions in the decision-making process. But while the current upheaval might be ringing military coup bells, for now, the power still resides in the hand of the people.




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Why is Zakir Naik Wanted in India – The Radical Preacher Explained



He has 3 million subscribers on YouTube, 593k followers on Instagram, and has delivered thousands of lectures on Islam worldwide. But Zakir Naik, the 57-year-old popular Islamic preacher, is wanted by Indian authorities, banned from entering the UK, Canada, and Bangladesh, and on the run since 2016.

Recently, the preacher made headlines after his controversial statement during a lecture in Oman – “Hindus in India love me so much that….

But before we dive into the reality of the alleged ‘radical preacher,’ it’s important to know – Who is Zakir Naik? Why is he called the ‘radical preacher’? And What charges does Zakir Naik face in India?

Here’s an explainer:

Who is Zakir Naik?

Zakir Abdul Karim Naik was born and raised in Mumbai, India, where he completed his education with an MBBS degree. His interest in socio-religious activities grew in his 20s, after which he founded the now-outlawed Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) in India.

Source: CNBCTV18

Zakir Naik also founded a Dubai-based broadcast, Peace TV, a channel now prohibited in the UK, Canada, India, and Bangladesh. And he is especially popular amongst Muslim youth, primarily due to his trademarks, Western suit, skullcap attire, and English lectures.

Over the years, Naik has become a subject of global attention after one of the attackers in the 2016 Dhaka attack (that killed 22 people) claimed to be inspired by his speeches.

Now 57 years old, the Islamic preacher left India in 2016 amidst accusations of promoting religious hatred and money laundering. Mr. Naik, however, denied the claim saying his remarks were taken out of context and distorted.

What charges does Dr. Naik face in India?

Soon after the Dhaka attack, India’s counter-terrorism activity had filed a complaint against Zakir Naik. He was accused of unlawful activities and of stirring religious hate.

Today, Zakir Naik is wanted in India for instigating terrorism, inciting religious tensions, and money laundering (millions of dollars). However, the court judgment delivered by Judge Manmohan Singh halted the ED from seeing Naik’s properties drawing similarities between Zakir and Asaram Bapu (self-styled spiritual guru now behind bars) in January 2018.

However, after the accusations, Naik fled India in 2016 and has been living in Malaysia ever since with permanent residency.

In 2017, India revoked Naik’s passport and asked Malaysia to deport Naik in 2018. But, somewhere in between, even Malaysia banned Zakir from delivering public speeches after continuously trying to stir up religious feelings and making racial statements against the country’s Hindu and Chinese minorities.

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Why is Zakir Naik called the ”Radical Preacher” in India?

Zakir Naik’s name often makes healing for his provocative and controversial statement. For example, at instances, Zakir supported suicide attacks in his speech while citing Salam Audah.

He has also defended temple bombing in Pakistan, arguing that Islamic nations should forbid saying, “How can we allow this (building of churches or temples in Islamic states) when their religion is wrong and when they are worshiping the wrong?”

His views on 9/11, homosexuality, girls’ education, and more have constantly kept him in the spotlight, giving him the title of ‘radical preacher.’

Where is Naik Today?

Recently, Zakir was spotted daring India to arrest the country’s many godmen. Recorded on camera, he can be seen covering Indian Hindu women. It was at this lecture that he was found saying:

“The problem is that the majority of Hindus in India love me. They love me so much that it is creating a problem for the vote bank. “

Zakir Naik

While all this was happening in Oman, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs said it was talking to the government of Oman to extradite Zakir so that he could be sent back to India to face justice. But the latest report states that Naik’s work in Oman is done, and he is returning to Malaysia.

Zakir Naik & The Indian Government – Bottom Line

According to Indian officials, Zakir Naik is a nuisance and a threat to any country’s religious harmony.

“With his large following, he is just a speech away from promoting riots and acts of terror, and yet he remains a celebrity in a certain part of the world – the Gulf.”

Wion, indian news channel

However, despite Indian authorities’ immense efforts to apprehend Zakir Naik and seek his extradition from Malaysia, Qatar, and Oman, International police refused to grant New Delhi’s requirements for a Ref Notice against him (with the most recent being in 2021).

Moreover, Interpol dismissed the NIA’s charge sheet against Dr. Naik, stating that soliciting donations during speeches and endorsing a religion does not amount to any criminal offense.




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