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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Japanese Senior Citizen Crime A Portend To The Decay Of Japanese Society

My good buddy Julien sent me a bit of news the other day about how shoplifting has become something of a lifeline for Japan’s elderly population.

According to the old Bloomberg newspaper article (HERE), nearly one in five women in prison is 65 years of age or older.

I should first point out that this is the second age-ism related article that the much younger than I Julien has sent me (one in March of 2016), so I’m unsure if he’s trying to tell me something in an effort to find the best retirement plan for myself.

It is no big news that Japanese senior citizens are committing crimes so that they can go to jail in an effort to get free care, accommodations, food and even operations… like I said, Julien sent me a lead on that story two years ago.

The senior citizen plan is, a smart plan, as the penal system will look after the convicted for free… but the downside is you aren’t free.

But I say that as someone who feels trapped without the bars, but no longer enjoys going to bars. When did that happen? I used to like drinking. Now I don’t.
According to the latest media shoveled my way by Julien, nearly 20 percent of the female inmates in Japanese prisons are senior citizens. IE 65-years-of age or older.

It’s for the same reasons I stated previously… a means of escaping (ha-ha) a life of poverty.

To tackle the issue of seniors behind bars, Japan is building prison wards (in both male and female prisons) specifically for the elder criminals, and is increasing its nursing staff.

I noted in my previous blog on this topic two years ago, that since 2005, that approximately 35 percent of all petty crime shoplifting offense were committed by people over the age of 60… 

While no one who commits a shoplifting crime is going away for life - even in Japan - since the seniors wanting to be jailed has increased, so too has the rate of re-offense, with approximately 40 percent re-offended more than six times.

Why not, right? With kids unable or unwilling to look after them as was the norm for hundreds of years previous, this lost generation of senior citizens in Japan is being forced to survive the high cost of the 21st century by what us so-called younger generation seems to find distasteful…

… by any means possible.

For those who grew up as a child surviving a devastated Japanese economy post WWII, doing whatever needed to be done is a mantra not easily forgotten, unfortunately.

As I see it the only thing wrong with the fact that seniors are willing to go to prison to get three square meals a day, a bed, and medical care is that they have to do this at all… which is a crime against society.

It’s an indictment on Japan’s government that has created an economical problem for its growing senior citizen base, and it’s an indictment against the families of the seniors who are not providing for their parent’s well-being.

Unlike most countries, seniors in Japan have for umpteen generations counted on the fact that their golden years would be spent in the company of the eldest son’s family… who would invariably live in the same city/town or village as the one they grew up in… and in the same house, too.

But Japanese society has changed over the past 30 years.

While certainly most Japanese seniors are being cared for by their now adult kids… and the seniors who are now grandparents repay by providing free babysitting… or even doing nothing more than providing some financial contribution to the home with their monthly “retirement” checks…

But nowadays, the young adults aren’t getting married, or have found employment outside and away from the comforting constructs of the generational family home.

Perhaps these seniors are too proud to ask their kids for help, when they assume they shouldn’t have to ask… it should just be given as it always was for generations past. Maybe, they just don’t know how to ask for help, comfort or finances, because it’s not something they ever expected they would need to do.


Still, if that’s the case, they are being stubborn in their refusal to find familial help and are opting instead to go to prison to get the help… after all… “shouldn’t Japan look after us? We paid our taxes and were the good, perfect citizen Japan wanted..”

That was me trying to think like a Japanese senior willing to go to prison.

Is it being done to shame their adult children for not having cared about their well-being?

Maybe… the only way to find out is to talk to a senior who has willingly committed a crime to go to prison.

But this is Japan… how many people would be willing to actually talk about their feelings?

I’m almost 100 percent positive that no one will talk to other Japanese about it… but I bet you they would talk to a gaijin

Japanese people talked to me all the time about stuff they would never dare reveal to another Japanese person… who would I tell, they probably figured?

Until I began this blog 16 or so years after leaving Japan, I wouldn’t have told anyone.

What to do? Obviously Japan needs to adopt the whole “bread not circuses” approach… and instead of trying to make itself look good in the global eye, it should instead spend its money where it is really needed.

I am a fan of the Olympics… of sports in general… but why should Japan be spending billions of dollars on hosting an Olympics, when it should have instead spent the same billions (less advertising) on helping its senior citizens, or those impacted by the tsunami and nuclear accident circa March 2011?

Of course it is doing what it can… but it could have done a lot more than trying to prop up its own ego in the world of sports.

The thing is… in this day and age… with global social media a keyboard or mouse or touch screen away, all of Japan’s warts and flaws are easily exposed… such as the lack of care being provided to senior citizens who are willing to go to prison to be fed, clothed, etc…

Your national ego takes a beating regardless of how pretty the upcoming circus(es) will look.

It’s too late with regards to money spent on such three-ring affairs as the Olympics, but perhaps Japan needs to look inwards and really see what problems it has, and how it can better allocate its resources to alleviate them.

As a Canadian, I’m not one to talk. We probably have similar issues brewing. I have no retirement plan, except that maybe I’ll be dead before I have to retire. That’ll solve one problem.

Every payday allows me to go further and further into debt. How do I get out of this whorling eddy? I know, I know… sometimes you have to take a risk…

While mine doesn’t involve committing a minor crime to go to prison… because I’m pretty sure I don’t want to go to become a semi-permanent resident of Canada’s penal system… but I suppose I have options….. come on, lottery balls.

Anyhow, this isn’t about me… no matter how hard I try… this is about Julien sending me stories about Japan’s senior citizens, who have given up hope of receiving real help from their government and their family.

Is Japan becoming a nation without hope? They seem to be on the verge of giving up on the family-concept - both in having kids, a spouse and even looking after their elders…

Whither Japan,
Andrew Joseph
PS: from

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