Japanese seniors are committing crimes so that they can go to jail, become part of the system, and get looked after for free. Except you aren't free.
While I'm going to go out an a limb and suggest the age of 60 isn't old, seeing as how I am hopefully approaching that millstone, er, milestone, but it seems as though some 35 percent of all shoplifting convictions in Japan are being done so by people over the age of 60… a rise by 20.4 percent since 2005.
Even if they didn't want to be caught and sent to prison, the shoplifting Japanese senior would have to be part of the slowest getaways ever.
It's not thrill-seeking or dementia, rather it appears to be the simple fact that as Japan's population ages, they don't seem to have the money to survive properly.
I get that. I'm wondering what type of cat food might be the best for me when I'm forced to retire. Cat food. At least I'll be able to lick myself.
There's a pattern with those that re-offend in the over 60-bracket, with about 40 percent of them re-offending MORE than six times.
In Japan, according to a Financial Times article, the average Japanese senior with low savings only has about ¥780,000 a year to survive on. That's just US$6,897.38, which is about what I spend on Coke Zero every year.
There's a reason why the oldest son usually looks after the parents when they retire and downsize… but for many seniors, that's simply not an option. Not every first born son (of which I am one) is wealthy enough to support their parents, or has the physical space to do so.
Since it's pretty easy to get arrested in Japan—stealing a sandwich can get one up to two years in the pokey—seniors can get three squares (meals) a day, a bed, warmth… and even work with which to feel useful. There's also free medicines and even operations should they be required.
The medical care almost sounds like free Canada. I say that just to tease the Americans.
Keep in mind that about 40 percent of Japan's population will be over the age of 65 by the year 2060, roving gangs of grannies stealing candy from little kids could become quite common.
It will, of course, put quite the strain on Japan's prison system.
Japan needs to begin creating affordable residential care facilities for its aged and aging population before it's too late.
I freely admit that I didn't know as much about my grandfather as I should have when he was alive, and I wish I had spent more time being a journalist asking about things I should have asked when I had the chance… and now I have a father who is at around that average old age when men die… (mother died early at 54, so I still have a few years to go before I can safely exhale myself)… and with my own health slowly eroding from its once great immortality… and hearing how some of my friends are getting sick, or have died from illness… it makes one stop and think.
Who is going to look after me?
It's an ageless question about age, to be sure, and in Japan, the solution seems to who will look you, is the prison system, unless Japan at least starts the process of doing something about it now.
With clean-ups and lives destroyed by the natural disasters that are inflicted upon Japan every few years… and the costs to rebuild… and the costs for its new Olympic ego, how much of that 'bread not circuses" could have been put to better use to look after a generation that helped propel Japan to such great economic heights and respect… especially since e just after WWII, damn near everyone on the planet not Japanese hated Japan…
With any luck, we'll all be old someday. In Japan, it appears one shouldn't do the time unless they are also prepared to do the crime.
Andrew "Baretta" Joseph
PS: Thanks Julien, old boy, for the story lead.
PPS: Image at top is of cherry blossoms falling... an apt description for the article above.