Ross Douthat, riffing off demographer Nick Eberstadt’s new essay in the Wilson Quarterly, discussed the sci-fi weirdness of Japan’s demographic collapse. Excerpt:

These trends are forging a society that sometimes evokes the infertile Britain in [novelist P.D.] James’s dystopia [in her novel “The Children of Men”]. Japan has one of the highest suicide rates in the developed world, and there were rashes of Internet-enabled group suicides in the last decade. Rental “relatives” are available for sparsely attended wedding parties; so-called “babyloids” — furry dolls that mimic infant sounds — are being developed for lonely seniors; and Japanese researchers are at the forefront of efforts to build robots that resemble human babies. The younger generation includes millions of so-called “parasite singles” who still live with (and off) their parents, and perhaps hundreds of thousands of the “hikikomori”—“young adults,” Eberstadt writes, “who shut themselves off almost entirely by retreating into a friendless life of video games, the Internet and manga (comics) in their parents’ home.”