New depressing stats

The forecast is not fair

The government recently released new figures related to household income. As of June 2009 there were approximately 48 million households in Japan, each with an average 2.62 members. The average income per household was ¥5.475 million, which is ¥87,000 lower than the average in 2007. Household income in Japan peaked in 1994 at ¥6.642 million.

In terms of an aging society, there were 9.623 million households whose members were either all over 65 or a mix of over 65 and under 18. The average income of these households in 2008 was ¥2.98 million. Overall, 61.5 percent of the households earned below the average income, and 19.4 percent of these earned less than ¥2 million. About 58% of the respondents of a related survey said that “life is difficult,” the first time since 1986 that that answer represented the majority of Japanese. Read More

Ghostbuster apartments

One of the inevitable consequences of a rapidly aging society is that people who die alone in their homes become more of a conspicuous phenomenon. There’s a word for it in Japanese–kodokushi–which is usually used when someone dies and no one discovers the body right away. As Japan became a more atomized society following the economic growth period of the 60s and 70s, more and more old people have been living in urban apartments by themselves, cut off from their communities and even from relatives. Isolated neighborhood groups often form patrols that keep an eye on elderly people living alone, checking up on them regularly to make sure they’re all right. One firm that works with UR, the nation’s public housing corporation, helps older tenants who find it difficult to move about. For ¥500 a month they take out their garbage for them, a service that doubles as a kind of patrol for obvious reasons. Read More