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Japan

Lessons For The World From A Dramatically Aging Japan

China's GDP has overtaken that of Japan. If there's one key area where Japan can still teach the Chinese, it is Japan's demographic crisis.

Four smiles in Japan
Four smiles in Japan
Daisuke Kondo

TOKYO — Last week on my 50th birthday I strolled to the coffee shop near Tokyo University where I used to spend a lot of time as a student. It's located underground with dim lighting, and plays classical music all day long, loudly. I had expected to find the shop shut long ago, but to my surprise, it's still around. The middle-aged man who used to run it is still there, now a grey-haired elderly man. I looked around, and apart from my middle-aged self, all the other customers were old men.

There, I listened to Schubert's impromptus that I used to listen to 30 years back, which remind me very much of the first half of my life. I realize that I haven't changed much. I used to drink coffee, read and write. I liked listening to classical music and play piano. Over the years, all those daily habits remain, which is perhaps why I rarely notice the passage of time. It's probable that most Japanese people feel the same. Tokyo has stayed nearly unchanged in the past decades. Meanwhile, over the last 30 years, the "other" country I have called home over the years, China, has been through enormous changes. Tokyo experienced its own drastic changes during the 30 years after World War II. The shopping centers, office blocks and subways built at that time are still being used today.

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Society

End Of Roe v. Wade: Will It Spark Anti-Abortion Momentum Around The World?

Pro-life activists celebrated the end of the U.S. right to abortion, hoping it will trigger a new debate on a topic that in some places had largely been settled: in favor a woman’s right to choose. But it could also boomerang.

Thousands of people demonstrate against abortion in Madrid

Lisa Berdet, Lila Paulou and Shaun Lavelle

The Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling establishing a constitutional right to abortion put the United States at the forefront of abortion rights in the world.

Other countries would follow suit in the succeeding years, with France legalizing abortion in 1975, Italy in 1978, and Ireland finally joining most of the rest of Europe with a landslide 2018 referendum victory for women’s right to choose. Elsewhere, parts of Asia and Africa have made incremental steps toward legalizing abortion, while a growing number of Latin American countries have joined what has now been a decades-long worldwide shift toward more access to abortion rights.

But now, 49 years later, with last Friday’s landmark overturning of Roe v. Wade, will the U.S. once again prove to be ahead of the curve? Will American cultural and political influence carry across borders on the abortion issue, reversing the momentum of recent years?

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