Elderly couples want to do things but can't get their 'parasite' children off their hands


Kyoko Taguchi (a pseudonym) loved her children but was happy to see them go. What parent feels otherwise? They’re grown, educated, equipped to live in the world. You congratulate yourself on a job well done and make plans for the looming senior years – years of freedom and ease, if you’re lucky. That’s what Taguchi and her husband were doing 20 years ago. They were in their 50s. Retirement lay just ahead. They were comfortably off financially. They’d travel, fix up the house, travel some more.

Well, no. Kyoko is 73 now and looks 10 years older, says Josei Jishin (July 25). For the past 10 years, her elder son, his wife and their two children have been living with her, crowding the premises and draining her and her husband dry. Not because they’re lazy or inconsiderate or irresponsible – at least not only for that reason.

The son is a licensed chef. He opened a restaurant. At first it did well. Then business dried up. Effort doesn’t always pay off. Nothing he and his wife tried seemed to draw steady customers. They work hard, are on their feet all day, come home exhausted. Fortunately there’s grandma – Kyoko – to look after the kids. The only problem with that is Kyoko herself. She’s at the end of her rope.

If company is consolation (which it probably isn’t),  Kyoko has plenty. “Parasite” adult children are a national scourge, Josei Jishin finds. A government survey it cites shows 20% of people 60 or over must help support their children and grandchildren. Financial planner Masako Hatanaka says the actual figure is probably significantly higher. It’s a problem most people prefer not to talk about.

Kyoko’s day begins at 4 a.m. She does the family laundry, makes breakfast for everyone, then leaves the house at 6 for a part-time job at a factory. Her earnings are a necessary supplement. She’s been keeping up this pace for eight years. She doesn’t know how much longer she can continue, or what will become of the family if she can’t.

A 20-year economic slump, a spreading aversion to marriage, and parents who can’t say no have created a crisis of dependency. Twenty percent of  Japanese people aged 20 to 34 now consider themselves “lifetime singles” who expect never to marry. Within 20 years that’s expected to rise to 25%. Nationwide, 3 million single people aged 35 to 44 live with their parents.

Josei Jishin tells another story. Noriko Motohashi (also a pseudonym), is 79. Child-rearing should be behind her. Her only daughter Shizuko (as we’ll call her),  is, however, at 52, hikikomori (reclusive).

Shizuko’s adult life started off promisingly enough. A junior college graduate, she landed a job with a financial securities firm and seemed on her way. But she didn’t get along well with her colleagues, and quit after a year. That was 30 years ago. Since then she has scarcely left the house.

She was among the first sufferers of what was soon to swell into something of an epidemic among Japanese young people. Hikikomori sufferers are now said to number roughly 1 million. They typically retreat from society into a world that would be literally bounded by four walls, if not for the ubiquitous internet. The more they age, the less chance there is of their ever emerging.

Expert attention to the problem has proved a bane for Noriko. “At first my daughter just stayed home, so there was no particular financial burden,” she says. “Then came the experts, the counselors, the therapy that involves living in dormitories.” All at a price, of course. “Bills come in for a million yen.” She doesn’t say anything about results. Noriko and her husband live on a combined pension that comes to little more than 100,000 yen a month.

“What if something happens to us?” she frets. It seems a situation that can’t go on forever, and yet there’s no way out in sight.

© Japan Today

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Complete nonsense, as usual for these Kuchikomi articles. Doubtless next week there will be one complaining about the destruction of the traditional three-generation Japanese family living together. Mental illness and economic failure doesn't make people parasites.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

A 20-year economic slump

This is the main problem. But only for employees. Why are companies also complaining about labor shortages, yet wages are not rising?

It all comes back to the average person not making enough money even though compnaies are doing well, they are not giving raises.

Japan, why do you follow the USA model of economic suicide?

9 ( +9 / -0 )

The problem is largely the laundering of employment, coupled with a pampering in education ( all the while pushing exams and testing to the hilt).

Three necessary changes over here:

Move to a bi-monthly paycheck system.

Expand HelloWork  (to eliminate the scumbag middle-men taking continuous cuts on people's salaries).

Enforce that fourth-time contract renewals will be without end dates.
1 ( +1 / -0 )

Kyoko’s day begins at 4 a.m. She does the family laundry, makes breakfast for everyone, then leaves the house at 6 for a part-time job at a factory. Her earnings are a necessary supplement. She’s been keeping up this pace for eight years. She doesn’t know how much longer she can continue, or what will become of the family if she can’t.

Solution 1-everyone gets their own breakfast. Parents get their kids breakfast if they are too young

Solution 2-stop doing everyone's laundry

Many years ago a certain columnist would always write no one can take advantage of you unless you allow it.

Time for Kyoko to spine up. The kids will take advantage of her right to the grave if she does not.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

The problem in this country is non steady jobs and a shockingly low minimum wage where one is required to pay health insurance, citizen tax, survive on noodles and pay the pension tax. ( I call it a tax because it is not saved up for the person paying it )

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I would say that the reverse is way more of a problem and going to get way worse in the future - middle aged people having the burden of caring for their elderly parents. My father in law, who is in his 60s, is unable to travel or do much of anything these days to enjoy his retirement because he has to take care of both of his parents (in their 90s) who live next door and are in need of constant care and supervision. Its a thankless full time job that makes the stuff complained of in regard to the burden of so-called "parasite singles" seem laughably minor (without wishing to be graphic, I assume most parasite singles are in full control of their bodily functions for example).

Given the demographics of this country this is going to be way more of an issue in the future while the number of truly "parasite" singles is going to go way down. I am guessing that a large proportion of those middle aged people living at home and implicitly derided in the article are probably looking after their parents rather than the other way around.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Alfie's right, the examples given are not "parasites" and it is both lazy and offensive to label them in this way. "Parasite singles" are well-off adults in their twenties and thirties who could become independent and/or start a family but continue to stay at home and contribute nothing/provide an extra housework burden, all while spending all their salaries on themselves. The people in the story are i) struggling to get by and ii) mentally ill. They are not wantonly selfish.

In the big picture of this story, if there has been an increase in older people helping their adult children and grandchildren, it would suggest a fall in living standards for such adult children, i.e., increasing difficulty for them to make it on their own. Average male income in Japan peaked about one generation ago, so its all there in the numbers.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Stop spending so much money then the bills won't come in.....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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