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Travel, Teach, Live in Japan

Japan's New Old Society
By:Josh Shulman

We all hope to spend our retirement years living a peaceful and content life with our family, traveling places and enjoying everything we've been missing while staring at glaring computer monitors, monotonously typing and filing away our best years at the desks of our puny cubicles.

In Japanese culture, much respect is given to the elderly. Japan's astonishingly high aging rate and life expectancy, however, is making it more and more difficult to sustain this social norm. In this country, the average life expectancy for women is 86 and 79 for men. With an estimated population of about 127 million people, more than 20% are above 65 years of age, and surprisingly only 14% are under the age of 15 years.

The first question that pops into mind is: What are they eating? Their healthy lifestyle (or just good genes), however, poses problems that require more than just short term solutions. There are more and more elderly people on the waiting list to the facilities, medical care, and nursing they are entitled to. There are more and more retirees that have to take care of their own parents, rather than being taken care of themselves. Their problems highlight the lack of government run medical and elderly daycare center facilities in Japan - a crisis brought on by the increasingly aging society and the apparent inability of the government to cope with the growing demand, or with any strategic issues in Japan in general for that matter. It has been a while since a Japanese prime minister succeeded in staying in office for a full term.

The present scenario has left people concerned about the economic and social consequences like increasing pension and health care expenses, reduced savings and investment rates and decline in workforce. All these factors have resulted in a new debate on immigration policies in Japan, as well as newly designed incentives for Japanese families to bring more children into the world. Japan must now redesign current structures to meet the challenges of the new, old society. The upside is that it should get easier to acquire a work visa...

Josh Shulman, Author of All-You-Can Japan http://smartjapantravel.wordpress.com

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