Now look at the world’s worst population pyramid, that for Japan (EWJ). These three graphs show that a nearly perfect pyramid drove a miracle stock market during the fifties and sixties, which I remember well, when Japan had your textbook high growth emerging market economy. That changed dramatically when the population started to age rapidly during the nineties. The 2007 graph is shouting at you not to go near the Land of the Rising Sun, and the 2050 projection tells you why.
By then, a small, young population of consumers with a very low birth rate and minimal savings will be supporting the backbreaking burden of a huge population of expensive old age pensioners. Every wage earner will be supporting one retiree. Think low GDP growth, huge government borrowing, deflation, collapsing bond markets, a depreciating yen, and terrible stock and housing markets. If you are wondering why I believe that a short position in the yen should be a core position in any portfolio for the next decade, this is a big reason. Dodge the bullet. Enjoy their delicious food and soothing hot tubs, but not their stocks.