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Aging of Japan

aging population of japan, the aging of japan
The aging of Japan is thought to outweigh all other nations, as the country is purported to have the highest proportion of elderly citizens Not just in rural, but also in urban areas, Japan is experiencing a “super-ageing” society1 According to 2014 estimates, 330% of the Japanese population is above the age of 60, 259% are aged 65 or above, 125% are aged 75 or above2 People aged 65 and older in Japan contribute to one-fifth of its total population, estimated to be reaching one-third by the year 20503

Japan had a postwar baby boom between 1947 and 1949, however, the law of 1948 led to an easy access to abortions, followed by prolonged period of low fertility, resulting in the aging population of Japan4 The dramatic aging of Japanese society as a result of sub-replacement fertility rates and high life expectancy is expected to continue, and the population began to decline in 2011 Japanese citizens view Japan as comfortable and modern, resulting in no sense of a population crisis5 The government of Japan has responded to concerns about the stress that demographic changes place on the economy and social services with policies intended to restore the fertility rate and make the elderly more active in society6


  • 1 Aging dynamics
  • 2 Causes
    • 21 High life expectancy
    • 22 Low fertility rate
  • 3 Effects
    • 31 Social
    • 32 Political
    • 33 Economic
  • 4 Government policies
    • 41 Work-life balance
  • 5 Comparisons with other countries
  • 6 See also
  • 7 References
  • 8 External links

Aging dynamicsedit

The number of Japanese people aged 65 years or older nearly quadrupled in the last forty years, to 33 million in 2014, accounting for 26% of Japan's population In the same period, the number of children aged 14 and younger decreased from 243% of the population in 1975 to 128% in 20142 The number of elderly people surpassed the number of children in 1997, and sales of adult diapers surpassed diapers for babies in 20147 This change in the demographic makeup of Japanese society, referred to as population aging kōreikashakai, 高齢化社会,8 has taken place in a shorter span of time than in any other country

According to projections of the population with the current fertility rate, over 65s will account for 40% of the population by 2060,910 and the total population will fall by a third from 128 million in 2010 to 87 million in 206011 Economists at Tohoku University established a countdown to national extinction, which estimates that Japan will have only one remaining child in 420512 These predictions prompted a pledge by Prime Minister Shinzō Abe to halt population decline at 100 million67


Birth and death rates of Japan since 1950 The drop in 1966 was due to it being a "hinoe uma" year which is viewed as ill-omened in the Japanese Zodiac13 Further information: Marriage in Japan

The aging of the Japanese population is a result of one of the world's lowest fertility rates combined with the highest life expectancy

High life expectancyedit

The reason for Japan’s growing aging population is because of high life expectancy; Japan's life expectancy in 2016 was 85 years, similar to that of Singapore, and lower only than that of Monaco14 The life expectancy is 817 for males and 885 for females15 Since Japan’s overall population is shrinking due to low fertility rates, the aging population is rapidly increasing16 Factors such as improved nutrition, advanced medical and pharmacological technologies reduced the prevalence of diseases, improving living conditions Also peace and prosperity post-World War II contributed to economic growth, leading to long life16 Proportion of health care spending has dramatically increased as Japan’s older population spends time in hospitals and visits physicians 29% people aged 75–79 were in hospital and 134% visited physicians on a given day in 201117

Life expectancy at birth has increased rapidly from the end of World War II, when the average was 54 years for women and 50 for men, as a result of improvements in medicine and nutrition, and the percentage of the population aged 65 years and older has increased steadily from the 1950s The advancement of life expectancy translated into a depressed mortality rate until the 1980s, but mortality has increased again to 101 per 1000 people in 2013, the highest since 19502

Low fertility rateedit

Japan's total fertility rate the number of children born by each woman in her lifetime has been below the replacement threshold of 21 since 1974 and reached a historic low of 126 in 20052 Experts believe that signs of a slight recovery reflect the expiration of a "tempo effect," as fertility rates accommodate a major shift in the timing and number of children, rather than any positive change18 As of 2016, the TFR was 141 children born/woman15

A range of economic and cultural factors contributed to the decline in childbirth during the late 20th century: later and fewer marriages, higher education, urbanization, increase in nuclear family households rather than extended family, poor work–life balance, increased participation of women in the workforce, a decline in wages and lifetime employment along with a high gender pay gap, small living spaces, and the high cost of raising a child19202122 Economic insecurity is a serious problem: about 40% of Japan's labor force is temporary workers23

Although most married couples have two or more children,24 a growing number of young people postpone or entirely reject marriage and parenthood Conservative gender roles often mean that women are expected to stay home with the children, rather than work25 Between 1980 and 2010, the percentage of the population who had never married increased from 22% to almost 30%, even as the population continued to age,2 and by 2035 one in four people will not marry during their childbearing years26 The Japanese sociologist Masahiro Yamada coined the term parasite singles パラサイトシングル, parasaito shinguru for unmarried adults in their late 20s and 30s who continue to live with their parents27


Age composition of Japan's historic 1940–2010 and projected population 2011–2060

Demographic trends are altering relations within and across generations, creating new government responsibilities and changing many aspects of Japanese social life The aging and decline of the working-age population has triggered concerns about the future of the nation's workforce, the potential for economic growth, and the solvency of the national pension and healthcare services28


A smaller population could make the country's crowded metropolitan areas more livable, and the stagnation of economic output might still benefit a shrinking workforce However, the low birthrate and high life expectancy has also inverted the standard population pyramid, forcing a narrowing base of young people to provide and care for a bulging older cohort even as they try to form families of their own29 In 2014, the aged dependency ratio the ratio of people over 65 to those age 15–65, indicating the ratio of the dependent elderly population to those of working age was 40%, meaning two aged dependents for every five workers2 This is expected to increase to 60% by 2036 and to nearly 80% by 206030

Elderly Japanese have traditionally commended themselves to the care of their adult children, and government policies still encourage the creation of sansedai kazoku 三世代家族, "three-generation households", where a married couple cares for both children and parents In 2015, 177,600 people between the ages of 15 and 29 were caring directly for an older family member31 However, the migration of young people into Japan's major cities, the entrance of women into the workforce, and the increasing cost of care for both young and old dependents have required new solutions, including nursing homes, adult daycare centers, and home health programs32 Every year Japan closes 400 primary and secondary schools, converting some of them to care centers for the elderly33

There are special nursing homes in Japan that offer service and assistance to more than 30 residents In 2008, it has been recorded that there were approximate 6,000 special nursing homes available that compensated 420,000 Japanese elders34 With many nursing homes in Japan, the demand for more caregivers is high In Japan, Family caregivers are preferred as the main caregiver, because it is a better support system if an elderly person is related to his/her caregiver Therefore, it is possible that Japanese elderlies can perform ADL's with little assistance and live longer if his/her caregiver is a family caregiver34

Many elderly people live alone and isolated, and every year thousands of deaths go unnoticed for days or even weeks, in a modern phenomenon known as kodoku-shi 孤独死, "solitary death"35

The disposable income in Japan's older population has made them to spend money on the new products for better looks and performances4


The Greater Tokyo Area is virtually the only locality in Japan to see population growth, mostly due to internal migration from other parts of the country Between 2005 and 2010 36 of Japan's 47 prefectures shrank by as much as 5%,2 and many rural and suburban areas are struggling with an epidemic of abandoned homes 8 million across Japan3637 Masuda Hiroya, a former Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications who heads the private think tank Japan Policy Council, estimated that about half the municipalities in Japan could disappear between now and 2040 as young people, especially young women, move from rural areas into Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya, where around half of Japan's population is already concentrated38 The government is establishing a regional revitalization task force and focusing on developing regional hub cities, especially Sapporo, Sendai, Hiroshima, and Fukuoka39

Internal migration and population decline have created a severe regional imbalance in electoral power, where the weight of a single vote depends on where it was cast Some depopulated districts send three times as many representatives per voter to the National Diet as their growing urban counterparts In 2014, the Supreme Court of Japan declared the disparities in voting power violate the Constitution, but the ruling conservative party, which relies on rural and older voters, has been slow to make the necessary realignment294041

The increasing proportion of elderly people has a major impact on government spending and policies As recently as the early- 1970's, the cost of public pensions, health care and welfare services for the aged amounted to only about 6% of Japan's national income In 1992 that portion of the national budget was 18%, and it is expected that by 2025 28% of national income will be spent on social welfare42 Because the incidence of chronic disease increases with age, the health care and pension systems are expected to come under severe strain In the mid- 1980's the government began to reevaluate the relative burdens of government and the private sector in health care and pensions, and it established policies to control government costs in these programs The large share of elderly inflation averse voters may also hinder the political attractiveness of pursuing higher inflation consistent with the evidence that ageing may lead to lower inflation43


Main article: Economy of Japan Real GDP change in Japan 1956 to 2008

Since the 1980's, there has been an increase of older age workers and a shortage of young workers in Japan's workforce, from employment practices to benefits to the participation of women The US Census Bureau estimated in 2002 that Japan would experience an 18% decrease of young workers in its workforce and 8% decrease in its consumer population by 2030 The Japanese labor market is already under pressure to meet demands for workers, with 125 jobs for every 100 job seekers at the end of 2015, as older generations retire and younger generations become smaller in quantity44

Japan made a radical change in how healthcare system is regulated by introducing long-term care insurance in 20004 The proportion of old Japanese citizens will soon level off, however; there is a decline in young population due to zero growth, death exceeding the births For example, number of young people under the age of 19 in Japan will constitute only 13 percent in the year 2060, which used to be 40 percent in the year 19604 Interestingly, Japan's aging population is considered economically prosperous profiting the large corporations Lawson Inc, a Japanese convenience store chain has salons for senior citizens that feature adult wipes and diapers, strong detergents to eliminate urine on bed mats, straw cups, gargling basins, and even rice and water4 However, on the downside, the decline in the working population is impacting the national economy4 The government therefore, has focused on medical technologies such as regenerative medicines and cell therapy to recruit and retain more older population into the work force4

Mounting labor shortages in the 1980's and 90's led many Japanese companies to increase the mandatory retirement age from 55 to 60 or 65, and today many allow their employees to continue working after official retirement The growing number of retirement age people has put strain on the national pension system In 1986, the government increased the age at which pension benefits begin from 60 to 65, and shortfalls in the pension system have encouraged many people of retirement age to remain in the workforce and have driven some others into poverty42 The retirement age may go even higher in the future if Japan continues to have older age populations in its overall population A study by the UN Population Division released in 2000 found that Japan would need to raise its retirement age to 77 or allow net immigration of 17 million by 2050 to maintain its worker-to-retiree ratio4546 Consistent immigration into Japan may prevent further population decline, therefore, it is encouraged that Japan developes policies that will support large influx of young immigrants475

Less desirable industries, such as agriculture and construction, are more threatened than others The average farmer in Japan is 70-years-old,48 and while about a third of construction workers are 55 or older, including many who expect to retire within the next ten years, only one in ten are younger than 304950

The decline in working-aged cohorts may lead to a shrinking economy if productivity does not increase faster than the rate of Japan's decreasing workforce51 The OECD estimates that similar labor shortages in Austria, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain, and Sweden will depress the European Union's economic growth by 04 percentage points annually from 2000 to 2025, after which shortages will cost the EU 09 percentage points in growth In Japan labor shortages will lower growth by 07 percentage points annually until 2025, after which Japan will also experience a 09 percentage points loss in growth52

Government policiesedit

The Japanese government is addressing demographic problems by developing policies to encourage fertility and keep more of its population, especially women and elderly, engaged in the workforce53 Incentives for family formation include expanded opportunities for childcare, new benefits for those who have children, and a state-sponsored dating service5455 Some policies have focused on engaging more women in the workplace, including longer maternity leave and legal protections against pregnancy discrimination, known in Japan as matahara マタハラ, maternity harassment5356 However, "Womenomics," the set of policies intended to bring more women into the workplace as part of Prime Minister Shinzō Abe's economic recovery plan, has struggled to overcome cultural barriers and entrenched stereotypes57

Work-life balanceedit

Further information: Japanese work environment and Salaryman

Japan has focused its policies on the work-life balance with the goal of improving the conditions for increasing the birth rate To address these challenges, Japan has established goals to define the ideal work-life balance that would provide the environment for couples to have more children with the passing of the Child Care and Family Care Leave Law, which took effect in June 201058

The law provides both mothers and fathers with an opportunity to take up to one year of leave after the birth of a child with possibility to extend the leave for another 6 months if the child is not accepted to enter nursery school and allows employees with preschool-age children the following allowances: up to five days of leave in the event of a child’s injury or sickness, limits on the amount of overtime in excess of 24 hours per month based on an employee’s request, limits on working late at night based on an employee’s request, and opportunity for shorter working hours and flex time for employees59

The goals of the law would strive to achieve the following results in 10 years are categorized by the female employment rate increase from 65% to 72%, percentage of employees working 60 hours or more per week decrease from 11% to 6%, rate of use of annual paid leave increase from 47% to 100%, rate of child care leave increase from 72% to 80% for females and 6% to 10% for men, and hours spent by men on child care and housework in households with a child under six years of age increase from 1 hour to 25 hours a day58

Comparisons with other countriesedit

Population Pyramid

Japan's population is aging faster than any other country on the planet60 The population of those 65 years or older roughly doubled in 24 years, from 71% of the population in 1970 to 141% in 1994 Life expectancy for women in Japan is 87 years, five years more than that of the US61 Men in Japan with a life expectancy of 81 years, have surpassed US life expectancy by four years61 The same increase took 61 years in Italy, 85 years in Sweden, and 115 years in France62 Japan also has more centenarians than any other country 58,820 in 2014, or 4276 per 100,000 people Almost one in five of the world's centenarians live in Japan, and 87% of them are women63

In contrast to Japan, a more open immigration policy has allowed Australia, Canada, and the United States to grow their workforce despite low fertility rates52 An expansion of immigration is often rejected as a solution to population decline by Japan's political leaders and people Reasons include a fear of foreign crime, a desire to preserve cultural traditions, and a belief in the ethnic and racial homogeneity of the Japanese nation64

Japan is leading the world in aging demographics, but the other countries of East Asia are following a similar trend In China, after decades of modernization and a one-child policy, the population could peak by as early as 202065 In South Korea, where the fertility rate often ranks among the lowest in the OECD 121 in 2014, the population is expected to peak in 203066 The smaller states of Singapore, Taiwan, and Hong Kong are also struggling to boost fertility rates from record lows and to manage aging populations More than a third of the world's elderly 65 and older live in East Asia and the Pacific, and many of the economic concerns raised first in Japan can be projected to the rest of the region6768 India's population is aging exactly like Japan, but with a 50-year lag A study of the populations of India and Japan for the years 1950 to 2015 combined with median variant population estimates for the years 2016 to 2100 shows that India's is 50 years behind Japan on the aging process69

See alsoedit

  • Celibacy syndrome
  • Children's Day Japan
  • Demographics of Japan
  • Elderly people in Japan
  • Marriage in Japan
  • Respect for the Aged Day


  • List of countries and dependencies by population
  • Generational accounting
  • Sub-replacement fertility


  • Aging of Europe
  • Aging in the American workforce
  • Russian Cross


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  2. ^ a b c d e f g Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication, Statistics Bureau "Japan Statistical Yearbook, Chapter 2: Population and Households" Retrieved 13 January 2016 
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  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Bold steps: Japan’s remedy for a rapidly aging society" The Globe and Mail Retrieved 2017-04-05 
  5. ^ a b Armstrong, Shiro May 16, 2016 ""Japan Greatest Challenge And It's Not China: Massive Population Decline"" The National Interest Retrieved March 20, 2017 
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  10. ^ International Futures "Population of Japan, Aged 65 and older" Retrieved 2012-12-05 
  11. ^ Population Projections for Japan January 2012: 2011 to 2060, table 1-1 National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, retrieved 13 January 2016
  12. ^ Yoshida, Hiroshi; Ishigaki, Masahiro "Web Clock of Child Population in Japan" Mail Research Group, Graduate School of Economics and Management, Tohoku University Retrieved 14 March 2017 
  13. ^ Clyde Haberman 1987-01-15 "Japan's Zodiac: '66 was a very odd year" The New York Times Retrieved 2015-10-21 
  14. ^ https://wwwciagov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2102rankhtml
  15. ^ a b https://wwwciagov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/jahtml
  16. ^ a b "Population Aging and Aged Society: Population Aging and Life Expectancy" PDF International Longevity Center Japan Archived PDF from the original on March 21, 2017 Retrieved March 21, 2017 
  17. ^ "Health Status: Utilization of Health Care" PDF International Longevity Center Japan Retrieved March 21, 2017 
  18. ^ Harding, Robin 4 February 2016 "Japan birth rate recovery questioned" Financial Times Retrieved 21 February 2016 
  19. ^ Statistics Bureau, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Japan "Statistical Handbook of Japan 2014" Chapter 5 Retrieved 18 January 2016 CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter link
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  22. ^ http://wwwdemogrmpgde/papers/working/wp-2013-004pdf
  23. ^ http://wwwjapantimescojp/news/2017/04/05/national/1-4-japanese-men-still-unmarried-age-50-report/
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  25. ^ Soble, Jonathan January 1, 2015 "The New York Times" The New York Times Retrieved March 20, 2017 
  26. ^ Yoshida, Reiji 31 December 2015 "Japan’s population dilemma, in a single-occupancy nutshell" The Japan Times Retrieved 14 January 2016 
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  31. ^ Oi, Mariko 16 March 2015 "Who will look after Japan's elderly" BBC Retrieved 23 February 2016 
  32. ^ Kelly, William "Finding a Place in Metropolitan Japan: Transpositions of Everyday Life" Ed Andrew Gordon Postwar Japan as History University of California Press, 1993 pp 208–10
  33. ^ McNeill, David 2 December 2015 "Falling Japanese population puts focus on low birth rate" The Irish Times Retrieved 24 February 2016 
  34. ^ a b Olivares-Tirado, Pedro 2014 Trends and Factors in Japan's Long-term Care Insurance System: Japan's 10-year Experience Springer pp 80–130 ISBN 978-94-007-7874-0 
  35. ^ Bremner, Matthew 26 June 2015 "The Lonely End" Slate Retrieved 21 February 2016 
  36. ^ Otake, Tomoko 7 January 2014 "Abandoned homes a growing menace" The Japan Times Retrieved 27 February 2016 
  37. ^ Soble, Jonathan 23 August 2015 "A Sprawl of Ghost Homes in Aging Tokyo Suburbs" New York Times Retrieved 27 February 2016 
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  39. ^ "Abe to target revitalization at regional level" The Japan Times Jiji 21 July 2014 Retrieved 24 February 2016 
  40. ^ Masunaga, Hidetoshi 12 December 2013 "The Quest for Voting Equality in Japan" Nipponcom Retrieved 27 February 2016 
  41. ^ Takenaka, Harukata 30 July 2015 "Weighing Vote Disparity in Japan's Upper House" Nipponcom Retrieved 27 February 2016 
  42. ^ a b Faiola, Anthony 28 July 2006 "The Face of Poverty Ages In Rapidly Graying Japan" The Washington Post Retrieved 21 February 2016 
  43. ^ Vlandas, T 2017 "Grey power and the economy: Ageing and inflation across advanced economies" Comparative Political Studies 
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  45. ^ Unknown 2000 "Aging Populations in Europe, Japan, Korea, Require Action" India Times Archived from the original on 1 December 2007 Retrieved 2007-12-15 
  46. ^ 1
  47. ^ Schlesinger, Jacob M 2015 "Aging Gracefully: entrepreneurs and exploring robotics and other innovations to unleash the potential of the elderly" WSJ: 1–15 
  48. ^ Harding, Robin 21 February 2016 "Japan seeks to bank on global appetite for sushi and wagyu beef" Financial Times Retrieved 23 February 2016 
  49. ^ "Builders face lack of young workers" The Japan Times Kyodo 23 October 2013 Retrieved 23 February 2016 
  50. ^ Takami, Kosuke; Wamoto, Takako; Itsuki, Kotaro 22 February 2014 "Young laborer shortage growing dire on Japan's construction sites" 
  51. ^ “Into the Unknown” The Economist, http://searchproquestcom/docview/807974249
  52. ^ a b Paul S Hewitt 2002 "Depopulation and Ageing in Europe and Japan: The Hazardous Transition to a Labor Shortage Economy" International Politics and Society Archived from the original on 27 December 2007 Retrieved 2007-12-15 
  53. ^ a b "Urgent Policies to Realize a Society in Which All Citizens are Dynamically Engaged" PDF Kantei Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet Retrieved 24 February 2016 
  54. ^ "Young Japanese 'decline to fall in love'" BBC News 2012-01-11 
  55. ^ Ghosh, Palash 21 March 2014 "Japan Encourages Young People To Date And Mate To Reverse Birth Rate Plunge, But It May Be Too Late" International Business Times Retrieved 24 February 2016 
  56. ^ Rodionova, Zlata 16 November 2015 "Half of Japanese women workers fall victim to 'maternity harassment' after pregnancy" The Independent Retrieved 24 February 2016 
  57. ^ Chen, Emily S 6 October 2015 "When Womenomics Meets Reality" The Diplomat Retrieved 21 February 2016 
  58. ^ a b Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, “Introduction to the Revised Child Care and Family Care Leave Law,” http://wwwmhlwgojp/english/indexhtml, accessed May 22, 2011
  59. ^ Japanese government's Employment Service Center “雇用継続給付” https://wwwhelloworkgojp/insurance/insurance_continuehtml, Retrieved April 24, 2017
  60. ^ "Japan's demography: The incredible shrinking country" The Economist 25 March 2014 Retrieved 14 January 2016 
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  62. ^ "Statistical Handbook of Japan" Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication 2015 Retrieved 14 January 2016 
  63. ^ "Centenarians in Japan: 50,000-Plus and Growing" Nipponcom 1 June 2015 Retrieved 21 February 2016 
  64. ^ Burgess, Chris 18 June 2014 "Japan’s ‘no immigration principle’ looking as solid as ever" The Japan Times Retrieved 21 February 2016 
  65. ^ Chang, Gordon G "Shrinking China: A Demographic Crisis" World Affairs Journal May/June 2015 Retrieved 27 February 2016 
  66. ^ Kwanwoo, Jun 11 July 2014 "South Korea’s Youth Population Slips Under 10 Million" Wall Street Journal Korea Realtime blog Retrieved 27 February 2016 
  67. ^ "Rapid Aging in East Asia and Pacific Will Shrink Workforce and Increase Public Spending" World Bank 9 December 2015 Retrieved 27 February 2016 
  68. ^ "The Future of Population in Asia: Asia's Aging Population" PDF East West Center Honolulu: East-West Center 2002 Retrieved 27 February 2016 
  69. ^ "Is India Aging Like Japan Visualizing Population Pyramids" SocialCops Blog 2016-06-22 Retrieved 2016-07-04 

External linksedit

  • Japanese Statistics Bureau Statistical Yearbook
  • Another Tsunami Warning: Caring for Japan’s Elderly, NBR Expert Brief, April 2011

aging of japanese women, aging population of japan, aging society of japan, the aging of japan

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