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CNN10 2023-03-17

CNN 10

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Aired March 17, 2023 - 04:00 ET


COY WIRE, CNN 10 ANCHOR: Hey, lovely people. It's Friday, March 17, St. Patrick's Day. So happy St. Patrick's Day, y'all. The weekend is upon us, and we have had an awesome week. So let's lock in and finish this week strong. We start with a trip to Japan today, where the number of births last year dropped to a record low.

This population decline is a trend for the island nation that experts are worried about. Deaths have outpaced births for more than a decade, so Japan now has a huge elderly population and a shrinking workforce.

There's no population to fund pensions and health care as demand from the aging population rises, Japan's Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, warned citizens that the country is on the brink of not being able to maintain social functions.

A government agency was even set up to focus on this issue. One reason for the population loss is Japan's high cost of living. There is also limited space in the cities and a lack of childcare support, which makes it challenging to raise children in Japan.

Let's learn more and head to one rural town where more than half of the village is over the age of 65.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just after sunrise in the Japanese countryside, no alarm clock needed. The Yokobori family feeds their flock of chickens, feeding themselves freshly laid eggs.

French toast for breakfast, bread baked on a wood burning stove. Wood they chopped from cedar forests surrounding their home. Ten years ago, Miho was an office worker in Tokyo. Today, she's a homemaker. Former graphic designer Hirohito (ph) now a woodworker. The couple runs a small bed and breakfast. For them, city life lost its luster in 2011. A new life in the mountains of Nara Prefecture. Their home miles from the nearest train station. Around here, you need a car to get around.

(On camera): It's so beautiful. But you're so far away from all of the 24/7 convenience of Japanese city life.

(Voice-over): They move to Kawakami Village, a tiny township tucked way on windy roads, the trees taller than most buildings. When the young couple got to know their neighbors, they got quite a shock.

(On camera): Did you guys know before moving out here that the average age was as old as it is?


RIPLEY: You didn't know? (Voice-over): The mayor tells me more than half the village is over 65.

TADAAKI KURIYAMA, KAWAKAMI VILLAGE MAYOR (through translator): 40 years ago, the population was around 6000. Today it's 1156.

RIPLEY (voice-over): The village population plunging faster than anywhere else in Japan. Some say it's in danger of disappearing for good as people pass away, abandoned homes sit empty. Others sit underwater. Casualties of a dam and reservoir finished a decade ago.

(On camera): When you see the prediction of, you know, under 300 people living here 20 years from now, how do you -- what do you do as mayor to try to stop that from happening?

KURIYAMA: I'm not optimistic, but I don't think it will be that bad. I believe that people should live in such a nice place.

RIPLEY: The population data is dire, and not just in Kawakami Village. Nearly every local government in Japan predicts a lower population and higher average age by 2045. Entire villages on the verge of extinction. Japanese society is shrinking and aging so fast its future survival is at stake.

I'm going to one of the few places in Japan with population growth. You can probably guess where it is.

(On camera): For decades, Japanese young people have been fleeing their small rural towns, lured by the draw of big cities like Tokyo and Osaka, all of them connected by the bullet train.

(Voice-over): But there's no magic bullet for Japan's population problems. Even in Tokyo, the towers are high. Birth rates hit record lows. Japan's population plummeting for more than five years. If the trend continues, experts fear it will fall past the point of no return.

(On camera): Why are so few women in Japan having children?

YUKA OKADA, DOCTOR (through translation): People usually, for now, don't have the money.

RIPLEY: Is life here in Tokyo too busy for a lot of people to find a partner?

OKADA: Working not in the office, at home, so it's very difficult to meet other people.

RIPLEY: It sounds like there's a lot of lonely people in this big, massive city.

OKADA: Yeah, so -- I think so, too.

RIPLEY: New parents in Japan already get a baby bonus thousands of dollars to cover medical costs. For singles, a state sponsored dating service powered by artificial intelligence.

So far, boosting Japan's birth rate has been a losing battle. The Yoko Boris (ph) are doing their part.

(On camera): So when he was born, he was the first child in this village in how many years?


RIPLEY: 25 years.

(On camera): Also a big challenge raising a child in the mountains, no neighborhood kids to play with. Just six children in his kindergarten class 30 minutes away. The nearest high school more than 2 hours away.

MIHO YOKOBORI, KAWAKAMI VILLAGE RESIDENT: We'll do the best we can, but the rest is up to Kintaro (ph).

RIPLEY: Both say it's OK if their son decides to leave someday. Population data does show more young people moving to the countryside, lured by the low cost of living, clean air, and low stress lifestyle.

The key question, is Japan doing enough to pull up its plunging population before it's too late? (END VIDEOTAPE)

WIRE: Ten-second trivia.

What planet as closest to Earth when it passes by?

Mercury, Venus, Mars or Jupiter?

It might not be the closest on average, but Venus's orbit brings it closer to Earth than any other planet.

Up next, an out of this world story where, for the first time, scientists discovered evidence of recent volcanic activity on Venus. A closer look at archival radar images taken by NASA's Magellan spacecraft in the early 1990s revealed the new evidence on the surface of the planet.

But the new analysis shows that a region near Venus' equator grew over an 8th month span. And experts say this is geological evidence of volcanic activity. The Magellan mission ended in 1994. But NASA has new missions to Venus planned within a decade. Scientists are excited about what else they might discover about this enigmatic, rocky, potentially lava flowing planet.

For today's story, getting a 10 out of 10, we're soaring to new heights.

Luke Czepiela attempting a world record, becoming the first to land a plane on top of Dubai's famed Burj Al-Arab hotel. It's actually a helipad, just 88 feet long, but Luke nails it. This is 56 stories above the ground. The red bull air race champ makes it look easy. But he's preparing since 2021, completing over 650 flight test landings on ground level.

So greatness does not come easy. The habits you're creating right now are creating the future you. This reminds me of a fable I heard. The great artist Picasso was walking down the street and he heard a young person yelling, "Picasso, Picasso, you're my favorite artist. Can you can you sign this napkin for me?" Picasso go makes a breathtaking piece of art. "Picasso, this is so beautiful. It only took you 5 seconds to do this." "My child," Picasso said, "It took me 20 years to be able to do this for you in 5 seconds." Master your craft, practice and outwork everyone every single day.

Shout out to Carlson High School in Gibraltar, Michigan. Today from me and my CNN team, have a wonderful weekend, everyone. I'm Coy Wire and it's been a blessing to spend this week with.