Four Asian countries feature in the IMF's rankings of the top five countries facing severe demographic pressure from shrinking working-age populations in the next fifteen years.
% Decline in Working Age Populations, 2010-2030 (Global Comparison)
Source: IMF: Singapore: Selected Issues: July 2015
Hong Kong stands out prominently with a projected decrease of 27% in the working age population between 2010 and 2030. South Korea follows with 23%, Singapore with 21% and Japan with 19%.
Clearly, declining working age populations is a major regional issue and not just specific to Japan. This trend puts pressure on governments to enact reforms to increase the labour force and reduce reliance on labor-intensive manufacturing industries as a source of growth.
In this case, Japan's sluggish growth during the last 20 years is a lesson to other countries in the region that reforms are necessary to raise productivity, restructure the economic base and enact policies to boost the labor market.
Looking further across the region, however, many other countries are relatively free from the pressures faced by Hong Kong and South Korea. Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines will see comparatively lighter declines in working age populations of between 5-7% between 2010 and 2030.