Asia faces a problem: Its population is aging faster than any other continent’s. A growing percentage of people in Japan, South Korea and China are over 65, and those countries’ economies are suffering because of a lack of available workers. It is becoming increasingly difficult for governments to raise the funds necessary to help retirees.
The Japan has a very serious problem. Motoko Rich spoke with me. The Times’s Tokyo bureau chief, about what it means when a society ages this quickly.
Claire: You’ve reported on the rapidly graying populations of Japan and other Asian countries. What is the Asia ageing rate and how has it happened?
Motoko: Let’s start with Japan. Nearly a third are over 65. Comparatively, the U.S. has a population of just 17 percent. Experts say that South Korea, China and Japan are poised to achieve similar levels within the next decade.
Low birth rates in these countries are one reason. China was affected by the one-Policy on child care. Gender inequality and high costs of raising children in Japan and Korea played key roles. Because of high expectations at home, it’s hard for women to combine parenting with having a fulfilling career. Women are putting off childbirth, or even deciding to not have any children.
In these countries, life expectancy is high. From afar there are many jolly things about these countries. happy centenarians who are living healthy lives Okinawa in Japan. But there’s a dark side. Japan is home to the largest number of people suffering from dementia. It is also difficult to find enough workers to provide care and fill in the gaps that exist to manage the economy.
It is understandable that an older population can pose challenges to a country. Is this what it means for others?
It’s coming for you. The U.S. has a very low rate of population growth. Italy’s population is aging at the fastest rate in the West. Asia will be an example to other countries. They’ll see what to do or what not to do.
You can compare the issue to how people used to view climate change: It was happening for many years, but we weren’t paying attention. Societies need to plan for aging, and they’re not well set up to do so. It’s not an in-You-face crisis — it’s a slow-Rolling crisis
Many older people living in Asia have good health. But what about their mental well-being?
Mental illness can be a serious problem. As my colleague Norimitsu Inishi noted a few decades ago, some people can die by themselves. There are fewer children now than there were in the past. Many of these children migrate to cities and cannot care for their elderly parents in areas that are depopulated. Many elderly people live in solitude.
What are other potential solutions than the older generation working longer hours?
While it may seem like the right solution, bringing in workers from foreign countries is not an option. Japan is well-known for its opposition to immigration. A few years ago it changed its laws to allow some workers, but the parameters were strict and it didn’t have a major impact.
Japan is not alone in this struggle. In China last year, death outnumbered births. This was the first such event in 60 years. What is China doing to deal with an aging population?
China is trying to stop the fall by ending its one-party system-child policy and encouraging families to have more children, including — like in Japan — the subsidizing of assisted reproductive technology, in the hopes that it will spur more births.
Recently, I wrote this story about Tokyo’s older citizens Working manual jobs. What is the secret to your success?
Because I saw it all around me, I decided to tell the story. After a few years of living in this area, I decided to hire movers. The movers looked almost like they were grandparents when they arrived. My husband and I kept offering to help — they seemed way too old to be doing this kind of labor. Sometimes, the delivery person appears too old to be still working when you unlock the door.
If you go into the post office or banks, there’ll often be a selection of reading glasses at the counter. You can also hang your canes in these little spots. In train stations, there’s more seating for older people, but also more old people nimbly climbing the stairs than I was used to seeing in New York. It’s very clearly an older society.
Motoko Rich is The Times’s Tokyo bureau chief. Her First front-Page story about Japan from Japan. Middle-The dissolution at an advanced age of a boy band.
Cover: The surreal imagination of the world’s greatest living animator, Hayao Miyazaki, was turned into a theme park.
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No. No.: Shane McAnally is remaking country music’s gender politics.
The complete issue is available here.
THE WEEK Ahead
Keep an eye out for these things
The N.B.A. All-Star Game takes place tonight in Salt Lake City.
NASCAR’s Cup Series season opens today with the 65th running of the Daytona 500.
Presidents’ Day is tomorrow, a federal holiday in the U.S.
Tomorrow, President Biden will visit Poland to meet NATO Allies.
The On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in an appeal against the law which protects Google, Facebook, and other companies from lawsuits based on what users share.
On Tuesday, the super PAC supporting Donald Trump’s presidential campaign will hold its first fund-Fundraiser for the 2024 Election
Tuesday, the last day of Lent is celebrated all over the globe. That includes Mardi Gras — and New Orleans will host many more parades than any time in its history. Nola.com reports.
Harvey Weinstein, a Los Angeles resident, is due to be sentenced on Thursday. Weinstein was convicted of sexual assault and rape. He is currently serving 27 years in prison.-Year sentence for related offenses
Friday marked one year since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
This Week’s Recipes
Making Eggplant Parmesan — as well as iterations with chicken, pork, mushrooms and other options — often takes a lot of time. That’s why Emily Weinstein recommends this eggplant Parmesan pastaThis recipe can be easily made in a few hours on a weekend. These four other delicious recipes can be combined with it.