national

Seniors account for record 29.1% of Japan's population

42 Comments

The requested article has expired, and is no longer available. Any related articles, and user comments are shown below.

© KYODO

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

42 Comments
Login to comment

 the ratio in South Korea was the highest among the major economies at 34.1

Interesting that the highest two countries have no inclination toward mass immigration...

the United States and Canada was 18.0 percent and 12.8 percent,

"...while countries with half the rates of Japan and S, Korea say they need to ramp up immigration numbers as a matter of socio-economic survival, It will be interesting to see which diametrically opposed paradigm proves correct.

3 ( +13 / -10 )

I can only imagine the government's plan to address this will be to move the goalposts.

In the near future, a "senior" will be measured as someone over 70, not 65, (might as well, since that's when anyone under 55 will be getting their pensions).

Such brilliant policy will make the number of "seniors" significantly drop (until they need to up it to 75...).

Problem solved.

15 ( +17 / -2 )

I feel Japan is closer to Korea and China than to the West. You can't shake off thousands of years of culture and their behaviour is deep seated. All these nations seem to be against immigration.

17 ( +20 / -3 )

Teen: adults: seniors= 1:1:1

I can live with 30% seniors.

-2 ( +6 / -8 )

@JeffLee It will be interesting to see which diametrically opposed paradigm proves correct.

Immigration does have benefits if done carefully. But the way Canada and the USA just let millions of unskilled people pour into their countries (in the name of humanity) with no plan, is objectively short sighted.

3 ( +15 / -12 )

I feel Japan is closer to Korea and China than to the West. You can't shake off thousands of years of culture and their behaviour is deep seated. All these nations seem to be against immigration.

Immigration does have benefits if done carefully. But the way Canada and the USA just let millions of unskilled people pour into their countries (in the name of humanity) with no plan, is objectively short sighted.

100% agree !!..

-6 ( +8 / -14 )

Seniors account for record 29.1% of Japan's population

Considering that numbers, that's not even become part of debate of current leadership race.

https://japantoday.com/category/politics/focus-faction-politics-wane-in-ldp-leadership-race-as-nat%27l-vote-looms

2 ( +3 / -1 )

You can't shake off thousands of years of culture and their behaviour is deep seated.

Japan's civilization and culture are relatively new, not nearly as old as Western culture. Today's Western ideas of democracy, education, architecture, etc. are rooted in ancient Greece, at a time when there was no Japanese civilization: everyone here lived in straw huts and couldn't read or write.

Anyway, the Yamato culture, starting around 600 AD, came as a direct result of -- yes, immigration. specifically from Korea. Even the former emperor acknowledges this. If Japanese thinking were REALLY "deep seated," they should welcome immigration and view it as a civilizing force.

11 ( +21 / -10 )

HiroToday  

Teen: adults: seniors= 1:1:1

I can live with 30% seniors.

Yeah, but can you live with a bankrupt social welfare system or a massive increase to your pension and health premiums?

I lived in a village 30 years ago that had about 35% of its population over 65. It really felt like Geriatric Land. You saw so few young women/men that you actually got kind of excited seeing one when you did. If you think we have a low birthrate/depopulation problem now, wait till then.

When Japan reaches 35% in 2040 as predicted in this article, you'll really notice the top heavy demographic, especially when traveling back and forth from "youthful nations" to Japan.

8 ( +14 / -6 )

This mean Japanese,will have less leisure time,while taking care of their elderly relative

7 ( +13 / -6 )

Good for Japan.

So long as those seniors keep active and fit in retirement and continue eating a balanced Japanese diet, and some of them working part-time if they wish, I can't see any major issues. A 65 year old Japanese is probably fitter than many Western 35 year olds.

Japan is attempting to show the world that societies with older populations can be run very successfully. Population growth and constantly having more young people is not necessarily the best model, despite what Western governments argue.

-9 ( +10 / -19 )

So long as those seniors keep active and fit in retirement and continue eating a balanced Japanese diet, and some of them working part-time if they wish, I can't see any major issues. 

Well, if you are solely framing this as an issue about keeping fit and eating healthily then its not surprising that you would not be able to see any major issues. If you framed the issue of the Titanic sinking solely in terms of how fit everyone aboard was you’d reach a similar conclusion.

Population growth and constantly having more young people is not necessarily the best model, despite what Western governments argue.

This isn’t a “Western” thing - the Japanese government views its demographic issue as a major problem as well. This isn’t because they are listening to bad advice from western governments or whatever, but because they can see the problems this will create for their society in the future, which are way more significant than just ensuring everyone eats a balanced diet.

4 ( +10 / -6 )

I think we need to increase the taxes as pension system might collapse.

-9 ( +2 / -11 )

Social security is going to become a massive problem in Japan (if it isn't already). My colleagues (both Japanese and foreign) and I have discussed this many times over the past few years. Will we receive a pension that is enough to live on? Probably not. I'm planning on retiring back to my home country which has a pension agreement with Japan, so my pension will be paid into my bank account there. But I know it is not going to be enough.

I know so many temp and nonregular workers are worried about their future, while young people don't seem to think that far ahead.

The way it is going, if I retire, I'll probably have to look for a part-time job here or in my home country to make ends meet, or stay in Japan and work until I'm into my 70s, if the company will allow me.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

In the near future, a "senior" will be measured as someone over 70, not 65, (might as well, since that's when anyone under 55 will be getting their pensions).

The average Japanese woman now lives to 88. Keeping 65 as the retirement age means paying a pension for 23 years. Which is fine if the system is designed for it, but it clearly was not. The system could also have been amended to cope with the post-war baby boom creating a temporary bump in senior numbers, but again, that did not happen. Since problems have been allowed to fester, someone is going to have to pay for it, and yes, it's likely to be future recipients. I'm 53 next month myself.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

When the consumption tax was first introduced, the people were told that it is to pay for welfare. Every time they have raised consumption tax, the people were told it was to pay for welfare. If this were true, Japan would have the biggest welfare budget in the world but instead the money has been squandered on weapons, roads to nowhere and anything else you can think of.

As for the pension system, back in the seventies, bureaucrats thought it was free money and spent all the income from the pension system building resorts and other vanity projects that promptly went bankrupt.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

You can't imagine how Japanese are starting to suffer with so limited retirement pensions for some. So far, most retired people have been seishain. With time, employees will for a big part (over 30%) be form temp, with hardly no pension.

And taxes going inevitably up to pay for the well-being of seniors and pay for the mistakes of politicians' decision (Fukushima...).

Fertility rate dropping like a stone.

And no one to demonstrate since the youth will for a few generations at least be the minority.

Any system has a breakpoint.

Often I explained that demography dire situation to my acquaintances by telling I couldn't stand walking sometimes in the street because going at snail's pace.

Even if all Japanese women had 3 children from now on, the reversing would need over 25 years to happen. So guess...it won't ever happen.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I just have to laugh at those who thinks is a positive and that there's no need to worry. People are shortsighted and can't see past the next 20yrs. The declining population will negatively affect everything in Japan. Pretty soon the numbers of seniors will double while the population crashes. With a shrinking domestic market, Japanese companies that don't globalize will go bankrupt. Say goodbye to all that money you paid into pension. The inability to learn and speak English and other foreign languages will limit globalization. All that famous Japanese savings will quickly disappear. Yay...time to celebrate.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Good for Japan. So long as those seniors keep active and fit in retirement and continue eating a balanced Japanese diet, and some of them working part-time if they wish, I can't see any major issues. 

Well, you ,re not looking hard enough...no one has ever said the issue is about seniors fitness and activity levels but about how to pay for the ever increasing social costs in a country where working age population is shrinking. Pretty sure you want to claim your pension in full no?

When the consumption tax was first introduced, the people were told that it is to pay for welfare. Every time they have raised consumption tax, the people were told it was to pay for welfare. If this were true, Japan would have the biggest welfare budget in the world but instead the money has been squandered on weapons, roads to nowhere and anything else you can think of.

Absolutely spot on & heart of the issue.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Japan will be the guinea pig for the rest of the world to watch. It will suffer the full effects of a severely and sharply aging population years before its more immigrant-friendly peers (along with China), and will see its population replacement rate fall to the among the lowest in the world. Will it "borrow" its way through the retirement of almost 40% of it's total population, all in a compacted 25-year period and beyond? Or will a crush of taxation also come Youth's way? Many of you will soon find out!

In China, thanks to the One-Child Law, they now have a situation they call the "4-2-1 Problem", whereby there will soon (like, starting this very decade, folks!) be only one "Crown Princeling/Princess" (i.e. a single, sibling-less child) who is producing in the economy for 2 healthy retired parents PLUS often up to all 4 of their healthy, retired, still pension-relying grandparents! 6 pensioners penny-pinching at the markets for every one traditional "true consumer", with the wisely retired keeping most of the assets they have in very low-risk, more stable forms of investments, and relying on government pensions...all with just one youngster on average to pay their way...for decades to come? Anyone else see a "positive feeback loop" here in terms of what this situation will do to further future population growth?

lol. Who would have thought that 30 years after China started their One Child Policy...they'd start running out of economically important 30 year olds? lol.

I wonder what the ratio looks like in Japan? Probably not as stark as in the "People's" Republic, (and I'd guess that both the savings in total terms as well as the quality of the pensions provisions are better in Japan), yet still - it's pretty pretty, pretty, pretty darn challenging, no? Or will..."robotics" and..."tech" save us all? lol. What do you think?

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Chronological age doesn't matter. Many of present-day Japanese seniors are healthier and more active/productive at work compared with their previous generations.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

So long as those seniors keep active and fit in retirement and continue eating a balanced Japanese diet, and some of them working part-time if they wish, I can't see any major issues. A 65 year old Japanese is probably fitter than many Western 35 year olds.

Wow, that's probably the most unconvincing way of scrubbing the set of real problems under the rug. Problems such as:

.the cost for elderly to be able to retire (a lot of them are already on sh.tty pensions, not mentioning that they didn't manage to accumulate much assets to turn to)

.the cost to finance retirement of an ever-increasing aging group (VAT has raised to 10% to deal with what should be a foreseeable and therefore planable problem, the problem being that at the same time the budget ever increases due to pork-barrelled politics, ego-projects, white elephants and stockpiling useless but cool-looking rubbish such as weapons and a Maglev-train)

.how to deal with "non-eating habit" issues such as dementia which will be equally ever-increasing,

.how to take care of elderly people as down the lane everybody has a breaking point where one can not live on his own (terms) and need care.

Further down the lane:

.young people having less and less chances to get a stable fair-paying job which would enable them to plan their lives (housing, marriage, kids, post-retirement future) which will only exacerbate the above points.

The only viable option is to reverse the age-pyramid but neither the environment nor the incentive (to have kids) is there...

I actually talked with 2 friends about that recently. Each one has a kid (one a 22 year old son and a 23-year old daughter). None of the kids expects that there will still be a pension-system when they retire and both actually do wonder whether even social security will still exist...

So, yup, the future does look effing bleak and the younger ones know that they are going to take the fall for this hubris...

7 ( +7 / -0 )

In addition to the list of problems Blue provided above, which are all valid, I would also add the harder to quantify but I think equally serious problem that an older society is going to be way less dynamic, creative , forward looking and flexible than a younger one is.

When you go to small towns and villages in Japan where almost everyone is old today you can see this playing out in real time. A lot of those places are falling apart because nobody has any hope for the future in them. Why start a new business, or renovate your house, or do anything to improve things when you are in a society that you know is dying out and has no further generations to hand things down to? This is just a brutally bleak and depressing form for society to take. Its mostly playing out in the countryside now, but its scope is increasing as more and more areas fall prey to this demographic crisis. The cities are turning into refugia for people fleeing the collapse of rural societies, but if Japan doesn’t get this under control soon its likely to become an issue in regional cities as well.

This kind of intangible effect on society, which is harder to measure than budgetary issues like funding pensions, I think is going to be an even more serious problem.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Seniors account for record 29.1% of Japan's population :

The nation is aging faster than anticipated.

With a lower birthrate & shrinking population, a number of immediate social issues ought to be tackled & resolved in the shortest possible time.

But can Tokyo achieve that..?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Is being a senior a demographic or an attitude?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I dont see where this is a problem just extend the retirement age at companies to 70 years old.

its unrealistic to expect that people who live to 100 to "retire" at 60 and start getting discriminated against for jobs in the late 40s. Cant afford to pay people pensions for nearly the same amount of years that they actively worked.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

@rainyday

Right on spot, with one area where you can see this very issue being...politics which are in the hand of a geriatric class who are clueless, hapless and ultimately useless.

@Blacklabel

I dont see where this is a problem just extend the retirement age at companies to 70 years old.

its unrealistic to expect that people who live to 100 to "retire" at 60 and start getting discriminated against for jobs in the late 40s. Cant afford to pay people pensions for nearly the same amount of years that they actively worked.

Actually, that is yet another problem: extending the retirement age to (for example) 70 and expecting people to work until they are 70, while at the same time they can not move / find jobs when they hit mid-40s...The only result will be longer unemployment or employment in jobs nobody wants to know about...

The simple fact that demographics show society is getting older and less citizens are being born make that obsession of J-companies to hire "new grads" and under 40s a complete non-starter. A little bit like when J-companies push to hire only on contract-basis to be able to let go their staff in a much easier fashion, while at the same time refusing to hire people, who having worked on contract-basis only, have switched jobs "too many" times for their liking...

The LDP has catered to the Keidanren to mind-boggling extends for too long. The job-market needs to be overhauled from A to Z, pretty much like everything else.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I will predict that Taxes will be going up within the next 5 years or a date will be set close to that.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Think of the need to change Japan’s infrastructure in order to make it more accessible for the elderly-the economy will boom!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I think telework would improve things. It would revitalize the rural areas. And, allow everyone more family time.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I agree to pay more taxes to support elderly than to invite crowds of uneducated marginals from shady places, like Europe did last years.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

 while at the same time they can not move / find jobs when they hit mid-40s...The only result will be longer unemployment or employment in jobs nobody wants to know about...

Good point, I was hoping that age discrimination would then move to at least mid 50s. But being Japan, maybe not, so its an issue. Try getting a new job after 39 even now, its kind of rough, thats as a guy. Cant imagine the difficulties that females of that age and even younger face.

Someday Japan will have to allow everyone to contribute, or import a bunch of non Japanese. Guess we will see what they decide.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

"The ratio of those aged 65 or older with jobs reached 25.1 percent, the second-highest among major economies."

@kohakuebisu ”The average Japanese woman now lives to 88. Keeping 65 as the retirement age means paying a pension for 23 years. ”

What makes you think that most Japanese women get pensions that cover their living costs? Don't worry, your taxes are safe from those skinny obaachan hands...they're out there working hard physical jobs like night-time cleaning, and it's not because their tax-funded senior years are so comfortable they're just bored.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I own multiple businesses that generate billions a year in revenue, but I know exactly how it feels to try and get a new job at 40.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

In the UK this issue has been solved by progressively extending retirement age. So, my sister born in 1958 can claim her state pension at 65. But as I was born in 1968, I can't claim mine until I'm 67. There is a sliding scale, and youngsters born today probably won't get to claim their state pension until 70+ . This seems fair, as each generation lives a little longer.

The U.K has also decided to fight ageism by making it illegal to force employees to retire if they still want to work. A good option to prevent seniors being all labelled as a burden, when clearly they all aren't.

Personally, I hope to always do a little part time work even in retirement to keep myself fresh and top up my pension. I'm sure many Japanese seniors feel the same.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Yeah I think if you ask most people they are concerned about not being able to really make any company worker type money after 60 years old. and the pension amount is not really much at all.

Most have to go back to the per hour game if they need to still work, with few if any benefits.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Imagine how conservative Japan will get as the demographic shifts towards a more elderly one. They really need young people to forge change...

0 ( +3 / -3 )

JeffLeeToday  06:40 am JST

 the ratio in South Korea was the highest among the major economies at 34.1

Interesting that the highest two countries have no inclination toward mass immigration...

the United States and Canada was 18.0 percent and 12.8 percent,

"...while countries with half the rates of Japan and S, Korea say they need to ramp up immigration numbers as a matter of socio-economic survival, It will be interesting to see which diametrically opposed paradigm proves correct.

I always thought the words "immigration" and ''Japan" were mutually exclusive. Same for South Korea. Both too busy thinking they are better and nicer than everyone else.

Fighto -Japan is attempting to show the world that societies with older populations can be run very successfully. Population growth and constantly having more young people is not necessarily the best model, despite what Western governments argue.

Japan is not 'attempting' to do anything. This was surely not planned and that is the trend here because many young people are content in sponging off their elders and don't want to get married or have children because they are spoiled and too much about themselves. Italy is also famous for the same thing.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

With Age comes Wisdom, so therefore surely, Japan must have an abundance of Wisdom that could be well sought by other Countries.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Tax burden aside...

No young people = No innovation

SILVER LINING (no pun intended): Property prices in many areas are so cheap (and falling) that I'm wondering if the low accommodation costs will not offset the higher taxes (in terms of % of salary spent).

In other countries property has spiralled out of control. So while their taxes are lower, their rent/mortgages are take up ½ to ⅓ of one's salary (if not more).

5 ( +5 / -0 )

What makes you think that most Japanese women get pensions that cover their living costs? Don't worry, your taxes are safe from those skinny obaachan hands...they're out there working hard physical jobs like night-time cleaning, and it's not because their tax-funded senior years are so comfortable they're just bored.

Whether a pension covers someone's living costs is actually irrelevant. What matters is how much somebody pays in and for how long relative to how many years they receive payments. As it happens, a huge chunk of Japanese women hardly pay anything in, because the system lets them freeload on their husband's shakai hoken for decades. Anyone who has paid very little in contributions has no right to moan about their free pension not covering their living costs.

My wife freeloads on my shakai hoken, every low earning woman with the opportunity does it, so it's don't hate the player, hate the game. The problem is that the system is not designed for x years of contributions, even forty years in the case of women who remain single, to cover 23 years of paying out. The average woman lives to 88, so 23 years is now the average. The system was set up on the assumption of 10-15 years of payouts and every married woman having 3 or more kids to keep the number of contributors high. Both of those situations have changed for the worse from the viewpoint of the pension scheme remaining viable.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan and South Korea think they are 'exceptional' and they will be - for trying to solve their ageing population problem with 'guest workers' from developing and third world countires who will be kicked out after they have done their work. Japan has already embarked upon this road to nowhere policy by setting up new laws that deny such people the right to bring their families etc. All this does is create an underclass of foreign workers unlike genuine immigration which provides rights that provide a social context to work.

I'm not sure that the rapidly ageing population of Japan will make it 'more conservative' - the Abe years simply made revisionism the norm and the ignorance of 20th century Japanese history is only one factor. Japanese society can borrow all the counter culture looks and trends it likes from western society but it essentially doesn't take in the original meanings or attitudes. The society here is fairly reactionary and that goes for many young people too. 'Diversity' is just another trend and even having a 'hafu' population won't make any real difference unless that population becomes more than 10 per cent or so.

It's not good news that old people can work til they drop because they need the money - that is just cynicism on the part of those in power as well as ignorance to think Japan can just carry on with fewer children, no real immigration and all the rising costs associated with a society where the younger tax base diminishes, the demand for schools and teachers declines outside of the key big cities as only one example, and the health costs of the elderly, already way too high because of their infamous over-use of the public medical system that young people are paying too much for, that will become unsustainable.

And sorry, it's already too late to have genuine immigration, even that far more limited than in western countries and other developed countries that get the need for it. This country lacks any real vision apart from a persistence in clinging to past notions and anything new is usually related to image making, but demographic realities are unforgiving.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites