B: I heard that last year Japan's population reached a peak of 127 million.
Starting this year it's going downhill.
A: Believe it or not, they predict the population will drop to 100 million by
B: Guess we'd better be prepared for severe economic problems. I think the
government's got to do something.
A: But what? I mean you can't force people to have babies.
B: True. We're in a new era. We need creative solutions.
A: Well, there's actually an obvious solution, but it seems taboo.
B: What's that?
A: Immigration. I mean, right now, Japan allows very few immigrants. Look
at the United States. They take in over a million people a year while Japan
takes just a few thousand. If Japan doesn't increase its rate of
immigration, who's going to do stuff like collect our garbage and care for
us in the hospital? We need a whole generation of young people for that.
With only 1. 34 babies per woman, there are simply not enough young
people to fill these types of jobs.
B: Yeah, but as you say, immigration is still a taboo issue. Politicians don't
want to touch it because they believe the general population is against it.
Right or wrong, there's still the impression that foreigners bring crime and
diminish Japan's unique culture.
A: Exactly. What Japan needs is a charismatic leader who can convince the
public of the pressing need for immigrants.
B: I doubt that'll happen. Rather, people will probably be slowly persuaded
by tough social conditions. You know, like when they start noticing that
they have to wait in line five minutes longer for a coffee because of staff
shortages. Or when they make a phone call to reserve a ticket and find
that they are talking to an operator in India. Things like that.
A: Actually, I've heard of one such example. Now the government is allowing
South-East Asians to work as nurses in Japan under a new law. Many of
them will be hired to take care of the elderly.
B: Now that makes sense. It seems like a much better idea than these robots
that you often see on TV. I mean, sure, robots can do some things to help
elderly people, but real human beings, even if their Japanese isn't perfect,
can do much more.
A: At least it seems like there are some creative ideas out there. Let's hope
these ideas start happening quickly. W e cannot waste any more time.
(II) Fill in the blanks (1) through (12) by choosing the most appropriate word
from the box below. Use (A), (B), (C), etc. to answer this question.
Alison begins the conversation by mentioning Japan's low fertility rate.
Then a short discussion follows with Alison commenting that Japan's
population could fall to 100 million by the ( 1 ) of the century. Because of
the severe economic problems that this drop in population would cause, Bill
claims there is a need for creative solutions. The two then commence a
discussion about possible solutions to the problem. Then Alison ( 2 ) a
different idea. She implies that if Japan allowed more people to immigrate,