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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Aging in Japan


Elderly woman with shopping, Tokyo.
Age is quite a popular topic of everyday conversation in Japan and is much more freely discussed in Japan than in the West, in that "How old are you?" (Ikutsu desu ka?, or Nansai desu ka?) is by no means a social taboo.

A growing segment of the Japanese population is now over 65 years old (rokujuugo-sai). It is growing for two reasons: the number of children being born is rapidly declining, and longevity (nagaiki, literally "long living") is increasing.

A senior citizen is known as a rohjin, and an old people's home is a rohjin hohmu.

A recent problem with rohjin hohmu in Japan is that a growing number, while operating as de facto old people's homes, are not declaring themselves as such in order to avoid the expense of having to comply with the plethora of regulations that apply to them. They are often exposed in the course of government audits, putting themselves, the authorities, and, in particular, their residents, in a quandary.
Other age-related vocabulary includes: fukushi (福祉, welfare), kurumaisu (車椅子, wheelchair), and nenkin (年金, pension).

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