Japan, sinking paradise for elderly people

The article below has been submitted to us by our friends from Ninja Girls, see below for the post in it’s original Japanese.

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My parents in Japan. 私の両親です。

 

Everyone keeps saying that “Japan is facing a serious ageing problem”. But if we look at our average age, Japan and Singapore has only 5 year difference.

Singapore:  39.6 year old

Japan:         44.6 year old

It looks not so bad, right? But when we look at the elderly population, you can see the real problem there. The percentage of elderly people (over 65 year old) is very different.

Singapore:  9%

Japan:         22.6%

 And these old people are rich. In Japan, about 47% of millionaires are over 65, while Singaporean millionaire’s average age is only 46 year old. This generation owns more than half of Japanese wealth. They have volume and money! And also, older people has higher voter turnout percentage. Of course Japanese policy makers try their best to make this generation happy.

Therefore, Japan became a paradise for elderly people.

For example, my parents in Japan are 76 and 73 this year. They are living on a few thousands dollar pension (per month!) from the government. It’s  a lot more than what they have contributed when they were young.

My mother had a cancer 2 years ago. She got a surgery and very good care in a famous private hospital, stayed there for many days. But what she paid was less than 10% of the total cost. Government paid the rest.

Where does this money come from? …….Yes, they use current tax payer’s money to sustain the system. And actually, even that money is not enough. Our government is spending more money than they earn. Japanese government has huge amount of debt and nobody knows how to get rid of it.

When we youngsters grow old and become their age, do you think we can still get the same kind of support? Of course not, we all know that our system doesn’t work this way forever. Those elderly people now are super lucky people who were born in very good timing.

Our country is a sinking paradise. Elderly people now will be able to enjoy their confortable life without watching the paradise totally sink into the ocean. And it’s up to us youngsters if we can save the paradise from sinking, or maybe we have to salvage it from the bottom of the ocean in the future.

Everyone likes to complain about Singapore government. I have to say they have some problems too, but at least so far they are not making this country a sinking paradise for elderlies. Singaporean voters are young and your policy makers know that they need to face the future to get support from you. But……

Your country is also ageing too. It’s totally possible that Singapore’s average voter age becomes old like Japan, and all the power shift to elderlies. As a PR holder, I wish from bottom of my heart that Singapore keep rejuvenating their people and mind, and don’t let it become like Japan. When country starts ignoring people with future and give up to create brighter tomorrow for them, that’s when it starts sinking.]

 

*Additional information about voter’s age in Singapore and Japan

Here are population pyramids of Japan and Singapore.

White part shows the population.

Red lines are “age 20” and “age 60”.

 

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Ok, let’s have a closer look.

In Japan, voting power balance by age is like this.

 

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Yes, there are more voters in 20-59,

But don’t forget that older people has higher voter turnout.

And older people has huge part of Japanese wealth.

 

 

 

In Singapore, voting power balance by age is like this.

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It’s obvious that people of 20-59 has much more voting power.

And in Singapore, basically everybody needs to go to the election, right?

So, I guess it’s right to say younger people has more voting power.

 

 

 

Graphs from:

http://thedeconstructionofasia.blogspot.sg/2012_09_01_archive.html

 

Below is the article in it’s original Japanese:

 

日本、沈みゆく高齢者たちの楽園

 

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My parents in Japan. 私の両親です。

「日本は深刻な高齢化問題に面している」とはよく聞く話ですが、平均寿命だけを比べてみれば、シンガポールも日本も5歳ほどしか違わないことをご存知でしたか?

 

シンガポール :39.6歳

日本           :44.6歳

 

そんなに悪くない感じ、しますよね。でも、高齢者(65歳以上)が人口に占める割合を比べてみた時に、問題が見えてきます。

 

シンガポール:9%

日本          :22.6%

 

そして日本の高齢者というのは、とんでもなくお金持ちなのです。シンガポールの億万長者の平均年齢が46歳と言われている中で、日本の億万長者の47%が65歳以上の高齢者。日本の富の半分以上がこの世代に集中しています。人数が多いだけでなく、お金も持っている世代なのです。日本では、年齢が上がるほど投票率が上がるので、彼らの持つ政治的影響力は相当なものです。この世代の人気を獲得できるかどうかが、政治家たちの進退を決めるとも言えるでしょう。

 

かくて日本は、高齢者たちの天国となりました。

 

例を挙げましょう。私の両親は今年で76歳と73歳です。彼らは毎月数千ドルの年金を受け取っています。このまま行けば、彼らが若い頃年金制度に貢献して来た金額より、遥かに多くの年金を受け取ることになります。

 

私の母は2年前にガンを患いました。私立の良い病院で手術を受け、入院中は手厚い看護を受けました。しかし母が支払ったのは総額の10%にも満たない金額です。残りは国が保障してくれました。

 

こうしたお金はどこから来るのでしょうか?‥‥そう、今現在働き盛りの人々が支払っている税金が、高齢者たちへのこうしたサポートを可能にしています。そして実はそれだけでは足りず、日本政府は毎年、歳入よりも多くの歳出で借金を増やし続けています。こうして膨大な金額になってしまった国の借金をこれからどうやって返していくのか、誰にも見当がつきません。

 

 

私たち若者がやがて年を取り、彼らの年齢になった時、果たして国は同じようなサポートをしてくれるのでしょうか?もちろんそんなことは期待できません。みんな、「こんな状況は長く続かない」とわかっているのです。今現在高齢者と呼ばれる人々は、とても良いタイミングに老後を過ごすことになった、ラッキーな人々なのです。

 

私たちの国日本は、静かに沈みゆく高齢者たちの楽園です。現在の高齢者たちは、おそらくこの楽園が完全に沈没する姿を見ずにすむでしょう。沈みゆくこの楽園をいつの日か救い出すことが、私たち世代に残された役割です。最悪の場合、完全に沈没してしまった日本を、海底から引き揚げる作業が待っているかもしれません。

 

シンガポールの皆さんは、政府の愚痴を言うのが好きですよね。残念ながら私も、この国にはいくつもの課題があると思っています。ですが少なくともこの国は、ビジョンを失って沈みゆく高齢者たちの楽園などではありません。シンガポールの投票者はまだ若く、政治家たちは、彼らに明るい未来を届けることこそが、自分たちへの支持に繋がると知っています。しかし‥‥

 

あなたたちの国もまた、老いつつあります。いつかシンガポールの平均有権者年齢が日本並みに引き上げられ、高齢者に向けて大きなパワーシフトが起こっても、全く不思議ではないのです。永住権を持つ日本人として、この美しい国シンガポールが、いつまでもその人々とマインドを若返らせ続けることを願ってやみません。国が未来ある人々を見捨て、彼らに明るい明日をもたらすことを諦めてしまった時こそが、静かな沈没の始まりなのです。

追記: シンガポールと日本、世代別有権者人口の比較

 

これは日本とシンガポールの人口ピラミッドです。白い部分が人口を示しています。上に行くほど高齢者です。赤い線はそれぞれ、20歳と60歳です。

 

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ではこれを切り取って見てみましょう。日本での人口バランスはこうなっています。

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確かに60代以上の高齢者よりも、20代~50代の有権者の方が人数が多くなっています。しかし高齢者の方が投票率が高いのは周知の事実。多くの富が高齢者に集中しており、それが影響力を高めているのも忘れてはなりません。

 

 

一方、シンガポールの人口バランスはこうなっています。

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20代~50代の若い有権者の方が、圧倒的なパワーを持っていますね。投票率も、シンガポールでは基本的に100%ですので考慮する必要は無いでしょう。高齢者よりもこの世代の方が、影響力を持っていると言って良いと思います。

 

 

Graphs from:

http://thedeconstructionofasia.blogspot.sg/2012_09_01_archive.html

About the author

Aya Imura

Aya Imura was born and breed in Japan, she attended high school in Utah, USA and furthered in Beijing University, China. Mid way through her studies she had to return home Japan when her family business went under. She became stewardess with Japan Railway Hokkaido before following her interest, and joined “Recruit Co.” one of the biggest publishing and marketing industry player in Japan as a copy-writer. She won several copy writing awards including the prestigious East Japan Best Practice Award.

Aya Imura started building her business in marketing research upon arriving in Singapore and helped Japanese companies increase their awareness and market strategy for both local and S.E.A market. In early 2012, ninjagirls.sg was born with a few like-minded Japanese friends.

They made video blogs about fashion, food, tourism and anything fun under the sun (and even the moon)!

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3 Comments

  • I find your analysis flawed. When the rich aged Japanese dies, a big portion of their money will go to the government to enable it to spend on the healthcare of the future generation.

    Japan’s debt is mostly domestic debt which means to say that your government can just print more money and the debt can be reduced.

    Now just imagine what would be the problem today if Japan had increased its population by 20% using immigrants 2 to 3 decades ago. You will now have an even larger aging population and a lesser percentage of rich retiree. Wouldn’t this be a bigger problem for Japan today? This is the road Singapore is heading to in 30 years’ time and it will definitely be catastrophic.

  • Japan’s govt is paying a lot to support their elderly, compared to SG. They need a certain size of tax payers to subsidise for their elderly.

    Since SG is not subsidizing as much, what is the rationale to increase our tax paying young workers?

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