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紹介しようと思って1週間経ってしまいました(汗)タイトルは釣りっぽいですが、日本の高齢化社会を語るためのベースにすることのできる良記事だと思います。年初に紹介させていただいた本‘Bending Adversity: Japan and the Art of Survival’の作者David Pillingさんが書いたもので、この記事は本からの抜粋ではないようです。

David Pilling is the FT’s Asia editor. His book ‘Bending Adversity: Japan and the Art of Survival’ is published by Allen Lane. This is not an excerpt.


January 17, 2014 10:06 am
How Japan stood up to old age
By David Pilling
Twenty-five per cent of Japanese are over 65. But not only do they live longer, they work longer, stay healthier, care for their elderly better – and have found ways to pay for it


If ageing is a disease, then Japan is in the advanced stages. In 1950, only 5 per cent of Japanese were over 65. Today that figure is 25 per cent. With the exception of Monaco, Japan is the world’s oldest society, with a median age of 44. The equivalent figure in the UK is 40, with the US a relatively sprightly 37. At this rate, by 2035, one in three Japanese will be 65 or older.

As the population ages, more than 400 schools are closed down each year, with many converted to care homes or leisure facilities. According to Mayumi Hayashi, a fellow at King’s College London, Japan has the highest provision of day centres for the elderly in the world. Some municipal parks have replaced swings and roundabouts with equipment aimed at elderly fitness. In the countryside, whole communities have been virtually abandoned by youth, leaving older generations to fend for themselves. The oft-repeated tale that the Japanese buy more adult nappies than infant ones is probably not true, though it could soon be on current trends. But it captures our repulsion at the idea of a country with more geriatrics than gurgling babies. Almost subliminally, we think, such a place must offend against nature itself.


Pillingさんは日本が長かったせいか、日本語を交えて記事を書いています。老人ホームでは姨捨山のイメージを紹介したり、「生き甲斐」は“It’s all to do with ikigai,” he said, using a Japanese word that translates as “a reason to live”と使われていました。

Kawahito, the author of a book called I Want to Die at Home, is a proselytiser for the cause of home-based care, which has a long tradition in Japan. The attraction of community care partly arises from a stigma associated with sending family members to nursing homes – institutions that, at least until recently, were regarded as only for those unfortunates who had been abandoned by uncaring relatives. Those sent away were sometimes referred to as “grannies dumped on the mountain”, a reference to an alleged practice in ancient times.


Shin himself pursues a lifestyle that would exhaust many a younger man. “It’s all to do with ikigai,” he said, using a Japanese word that translates as “a reason to live”, something to keep mind and body active. It’s become fashionable, he said, to talk about something called pinpin korori, a brutal but almost comic way of describing an active life followed by sudden death. “Drop down dead,” he laughed. “That’s a good way of saving on medical bills.” Then he paused to reflect. “After all, we don’t want to be a burden on the youngsters.”