Opinions from Japan’s Aging Population

This information comes to us from The Wall Street Journal. It’s a summary of the Japanese government’s report on their aging population and the issues they face. To read more of my posts on Japan, check out this post on iPads and Custom Apps for the Elderly in Japan  or this post on The Rise of Aging-Friendly Stores. 

Fear of Dying Alone: The State of Japan’s Aging Population

June 16, 2015 By JUN HONGO

Elderly people wait for a bus in Tokyo.

Bloomberg News

The Japanese government released its annual report on Japan’s aging population which illustrates the state of the country’s elderly and the issues they face. As of October 2014, 26% of Japan’s population was aged 65 years old or over, making it the world’s fastest aging nation. That percentage is expected to increase to 40% by 2060.

Here are five facts from the report.

A woman shops in Tokyo’s Ginza district.

Bloomberg News

1. As of 2013, there were 2.2 million households in which at least one member was 65 years old or older. That’s about 45% of all households. About 31% lived only with their spouse, and 26% lived alone.

2. The percentage of men who are 65 or older who live alone has more than doubled in the past 30 years. About 11% of them lived by themselves in 2010, compared to 4.3% in 1980. That percentage is expected to rise to 16% in 2035.

Of the women who are 65 or older, 20% lived alone in 2010, up from 11% in 1980. That percentage is expected to rise to 23% by 2035.

A care facility in Ehime prefecture.

Bloomberg News

3. In a survey of 1,480 people aged 65 or over, 44.5% said they thought ‘kodokushi,’ a Japanese term which means dying alone without being discovered for an extended period of time, is an issue they relate or somewhat relate to themselves.

4. The same survey also asked elderly men and women to grade their happiness on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest. Women had an average score of 6.96 compared with 5.83 for the men. Overall, those with a monthly income of ¥150,000($1,210) or more scored 7.12, compared with 5.82 for those with less than ¥50,000.

5. In a survey of 3,893 people aged 60 or over, 15.7% said they feel a strong purpose in life and 49.8% said they feel a somewhat strong purpose. What are some of the joys the aged population in Japan feel? In the separate survey of 1,480 people aged 65 or older who live alone, 78.8% said they enjoy watching television and listening to the radio, while 53.1% said they like to gather with friends and chat, and 44% said they like to read newspapers and magazines.

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2 thoughts on “Opinions from Japan’s Aging Population

  1. Funny enough I’ve just read a report that nowadays Japan has the third highest rate of suicides in the world after South Korea and Hungary. Apparently the largest percentage of suicides in Japan are committed by isolated elderly and unemployed young people who have lost hope of being employed. I bet that since isolation leads to depression it also contributes in making older people prone to developing Alzheimer and Dementia

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    • Thanks for the comment. You are correct, Japan has a high suicide rate – roughly 60% higher than the global average! We have to remember cultural differences when thinking about this topic, and one major cultural difference between Japan and Europe/US is that there isn’t the same history of Christianity, so suicide isn’t seen as a sin but as a way of taking responsibility. Being a “burden” to ones family is considered an “honorable” reason for suicide.
      This BBC article frames the topic in a bit more detail, perhaps it is the one you just read? http://www.bbc.com/news/world-33362387

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