By Kim Kyung-hoon
There are several key descriptive phrases to keep in mind when talking about Japan; one obvious to everyone is “Rapidly Aging Society”.
The rise of the elderly population and falling birth rate are no longer surprising news. One in four people in Japan is now over 65 years.
If you have the chance to walk around Tokyo’s downtown area, you’ll probably nod your head in recognition of the truth of this phrase. When you stop at a crosswalk to cross the street, you will find yourself surrounded by people who have silver hair and are stooped with age. When you watch TV you will see commercials for adult diapers and denture washers, common during prime time. Because the elderly are a big consumer group in Japan, Japanese enterprises never forget to satisfy the elderly and they gladly provide elderly consumers with their state-of-the-art technologies such as a care robot or a walk-assist robot.
The predominance of elderly people is not rare even in underground culture. If you go to an adult video shop, you can easily find a 78-year-old porno star who has starred in several hundred movies. His movies stimulate his peers to enjoy an active life with their partners as long as they are able.
However, not all the elderly are enjoying their golden age.
Some old people die alone, their bodies sometimes undiscovered for days. In Tokyo’s Shinagawa Ward, at least 25 elderly have died alone in their homes and 4.6 million elderly are living alone across Japan, according to the Japanese government’s data released last year.