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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.

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
1 hour ago - World

How Biden might tackle the Iran deal

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Four more years of President Trump would almost certainly kill the Iran nuclear deal — but the election of Joe Biden wouldn’t necessarily save it.

The big picture: Rescuing the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is near the top of Biden's foreign policy priority list. He says he'd re-enter the deal once Iran returns to compliance, and use it as the basis on which to negotiate a broader and longer-lasting deal with Iran.

Kamala Harris, the new left's insider

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images     

Progressive leaders see Sen. Kamala Harris, if she's elected vice president, as their conduit to a post-Biden Democratic Party where the power will be in younger, more diverse and more liberal hands.

  • Why it matters: The party's rising left sees Harris as the best hope for penetrating Joe Biden's older, largely white inner circle.

If Biden wins, Harris will become the first woman, first Black American and first Indian American to serve as a U.S. vice president — and would instantly be seen as the first in line for the presidency should Biden decide against seeking a second term.

Updated 9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Large coronavirus outbreaks leading to high death rates — Coronavirus cases are at an all-time high ahead of Election Day — U.S. tops 88,000 COVID-19 cases, setting new single-day record.
  2. Politics: States beg for Warp Speed billions.
  3. World: Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases.
  4. 🎧Podcast: The vaccine race turns toward nationalism.