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Aging & Longevity

Japan Having Problem with Senior Citizens Refusing to Accept Being Elderly

Recent survey finds older Japanese just don't like being considered elderly, even if it means special favors

Japan Second in Life Expectancy, U.S. 34

Japan is listed by the World Health Organization as the number two nation in the world in a ranking by average life expectancy. Monaco is number one with a life expectancy of 88.2 years. Japan’s life expectancy is 84.6.

The U.S. ranks 34 with a life expectancy of only 79.8 years.

Sept. 27, 2014 – Japan has a problem with its senior citizens. They are refusing to sit in priority seating for the elderly in the public transportation system, many refuse to consider people elderly until they are 80 years old and they don’t like Respect for the Aged Day, reports The Yomiuri Shimbun.

A recent survey found most Japanese 70 or older do not use “priority seats” on public transportation, because they do not consider themselves to be elderly, the newspaper reports.

Asked whether they use the priority seats on public transportation - dubbed silver seats in Japan and reserved for the elderly, disabled, expecting mothers and people with small children - 74.7 percent of respondents in their 60s, and 55.4 percent of those 70 or older, replied they do not use the seats.


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The highest percentage of respondents, at 32.4 percent, said their reason was “I’m in fine health.” It was followed by 26.3 percent who said, “I don’t think I’m a ‘silver-age citizen.’”

The Tokyo-based travel company, Yuko Yuko Corp., conducted the survey of people 50 or older. It was conducted in July, and 1,695 subscribers of the website’s e-mail magazine service 50 or older responded.

To another question asking from what age people can be considered as elderly, more than 60 percent of respondents in their 50s and 60s replied “70 years old.” However, nearly 40 percent of respondents 70 or older replied: “80 years old.”

In Japan, the third Monday in September is a holiday called Respect for the Aged Day, and this year’s fell on Sept. 15.

However, 27 percent of respondents replied they have mixed feelings about having a day celebrating them, accounting for the largest percentage. Fewer than 10 percent of respondents said they were happy or blessed to have a day celebrating them.

The results indicated respondents feel embarrassed about being treated as elderly despite being in good health.

To a multiple-choice question about circumstances that make them feel they have grown old, 57.3 percent of men said it is when they have a hard time reading, and 66.4 percent of women replied it is when they look at their faces in the mirror. These accounted for the highest percentages.

Among other answers cited by many, 51.9 percent of men and 59.2 percent of women said it is when they cannot immediately remember names of their friends or publicly well-known people.

To a question about the instances in which they think other people have grown old, 61.8 percent of men said it is when they notice that someone’s hair looks thin, and 69.1 percent of women said it is when they see wrinkles or blotches on someone’s face, especially around the eyes and lips.

“The respondents feel happy to be respected as seniors in life, but do not want to be treated as an old person,” said Atsuko Kasahara, an official of the company’s corporate planning section. “Isn’t that a senior citizens’ true feelings?”

>> The Yomiuri Shimbun


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