According to thinktank Machine Industry Memorial Foundation, robots could fill the jobs of 3.5 million people in Japan by 2025, helping to avert worker shortages as the country's population shrinks. The country faces a 16 percent slide in the size of its workforce by 2030 while the number of elderly will mushroom, the government estimates, raising worries about who will do the work in a country unused to, and unwilling to contemplate, large-scale immigration. Luckily, robots could help fill the gaps, ranging from microsized capsules that detect lesions to high-tech vacuum cleaners.
"Seniors are pushing back their retirement until they are 65 years old, day care centers are being built so that more women can work during the day, and there is a move to increase the quota of foreign laborers. But none of these can beat the shrinking workforce," said Takao Kobayashi, who worked on the study. The current fertility rate is 1.3 babies per woman, far below the level needed to maintain the population, while the government estimates that 40 percent of the population will be over 65 by 2055, raising concerns about who will look after the greying population.
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