Japan’s Super Ageing Society
Japan is a super-aging society. The population over 65 years old is 36 million as of 2020, which is 28.7% of the Japanese population. This is the highest number in the world followed by Italy (23.3%). The Ministry of Internal Affaires and Communications released the number on September 20, 2020, which is the day before Senior Day.
Factors for Long Life
The main reason for the aging society is, of course, the long life-expectancy. Japanese people’s life expectancy is one the highest in the world. 81.41 years for the men, which is the third in the world after Hong Kong and Switzerland. 87.45 years for the women, which is number two in the world after Hong Kong.
Why Japanese people live so long? One factor may be the food culture. Japanese food is basically very healthy. We eat meat now, but until the end of feudal time in the mid-19th century, people didn’t eat meat. They only ate fish, vegetables and rice. They started eat mean when they reopened the country after 200 years isolation policy. Japanese people still love fish and there are so many varieties of vegetable dishes. If you come to Japan, you may not be able to find fat people.
Second factor may be highly advanced medical system and sufficient health insurance system. People can go to a doctor easily even with light diseases because of the health insurance which all the people need to join. 70% of the medical fee is covered by the insurance.
Another important factor for the aging society is decrease of the children. The number of new born babies is declining rapidly. It was 864,000, which was the first time the number became less than 900,000. The main factors of this decline are the low marriage rate and low birth rate. The age to get married has been older year by year, over 30 for men and women, and the number of people who stays single for the entire life is increasing. There are several reasons for this change. Until about 30 years ago, both men and women were expected to get married by mid-20th. Also, parents, relatives or company bosses used to find the partner and fix the arranged marriage. Young people felt the social pressure if they didn’t get married. But it is not the case anymore. If the boss gives pressure to the employees, he may get sued for the marriage harassment.
The birth rate in 2018 was 1.4. It is said the rate must be over 2.08 to maintain the same population. There are several problems. It costs a lot to raise children and social problems such as shortage of nurseries. Couple may hesitate to have second child in this situation.
So, the shape of the population pyramid is inverted triangle in Japan, which should be the normal triangle.
Increasing seniors and decreasing children have been causing troubles.
Firstly, the laboring population has been declining, which is not desirable for the economic growth.
Secondly, pension system will not work sufficiently in the future. Decreasing young people will need to support increasing senior people. The government cannot keep the same pension amount then. The active population will need to pay more for the pension and the senior may not receive enough amount.
The government chose two solutions. The one is to raise the age to receive pension. It used to be 60, but it has become 65. The government encourage people to wait until 70 so that they can have more monthly pension.
Another one is to raise the consumption tax and use the increase money to support the system, but it didn’t work. The tax has raised from 8% to 10% in 2019, but the increased amount was used for the other purposes.
The average pension amount is only about 56,000 yen (500 USD) per month, which is not enough at all. If you are company employee, employees’ pension plan is added, and the total amount is about 145,000 yen (1,400 USD). It is much higher than just the standard pension, but not enough if you need to live only with pension. Japanese people believe that they need to have 30 million yen (300,000 USD) saving when they retire.