Senior Stories Travel

Japanese Seniors: Japan’s Other Disaster

Japanese Seniors

Japanese Camp FireOn the day of the shooting, there were upwards of 150 elderly Japanese scrounging for a living on the Camp Weir rifle range. Japan has come a long way in providing better living conditions for its elderly since 1957. But at a cost that has severely crippled its economy a decade into a national economic stalemate.

Retirement in Japan

If the cost of providing for the Japanese elderly cannot be brought down, it could mean raising the retirement age. The result means providing only a three-year social safety net on the average for the elderly.

It’s unimaginable. As more reach retirement age, Japan’s birthrate is not high enough to replace those in the workforce; who pay the taxes needed to support the elderly.

It’s a disaster piled now upon three more disasters; a historic earthquake, followed by a historic tsunami over which hangs a major nuclear disaster.

The photos I am seeing of people huddling around open fires, cooking in the streets, and huddling together in makeshift shelters remind me of that part of the Japanese recovery I witnessed in the 1950s.

My prayers are that we never again see old Japanese women sitting out their lives at a train station. Or betting their lives on the brass they can scrounge from a firing range.

My thanks are to the God that blessed me with being born in a country where, although we are prone to complain about it, we who have become “suddenly senior” are amply provided for by a cornucopia of safety nets.

About the Author

Dave Whitney is a retired journalist and adventurer who has won many writing awards. He was born and raised in central Ohio. He attended school in Missouri, served in the US Army Security Agency, and migrated to Florida a half-century ago. Author of four books, he is a former Associated Press writer/editor. He has been nominated three times for the Pulitzer Prize during his writing career. He’s the editor and founder of the Free Press newspapers in the Florida Keys. He’s the first publisher to become a “Suddenly Senior” columnist. Whitney currently resides in Lakeland, Fla., after living 25 years in the Florida Keys.

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