Jun 5, 2017

Why Japan is encouraging automation

Joerg Sarbach / AP

With Japan's low birth rate leading to a shortage of workers, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is encouraging investment in automation. As the NY Times points out, Japan had fewer than 1 million births last year for the first time since records began in 1899. The population is projected to fall to 80 million by 2060 — from over 120 million now.

Unemployment in Japan is just 2.8%, and in some parts of the country the majority of the population is elderly. Increased immigration could help solve the problem, but per the Times, there is little public support for it. Policy options include changing the retirement age, as well as machines that could fill the gap.

Why it matters: While robots create anxiety, they may actually be necessary as working-age populations shrink in Japan, Europe and elsewhere. There is labor that needs to be done, especially in elderly care.

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Coronavirus kills 2 Diamond Princess passengers and South Korea sees first death

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. U.S. numbers include Americans extracted from Princess Cruise ship.

Two elderly Diamond Princess passengers have been killed by the novel coronavirus — the first deaths confirmed among the more than 600 infected aboard the cruise ship. South Korea also announced its first death Thursday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed more than 2,200 people and infected over 75,465 others, mostly in mainland China, where the National Health Commission announced 118 new deaths since Thursday.

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SoftBank to cut its stake to get T-Mobile's Sprint deal done

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

T-Mobile and Sprint announced a revised merger agreement that will see SoftBank getting a smaller share of the combined company, while most shareholders will receive the previously agreed upon exchange rate. The companies said they hope to get the deal as early as April 1.

Why it matters: The amended deal reflects the decline in Sprint's business, while leaving most shareholders' stake intact and removing another hurdle to the deal's closure.