Respect for Senior Citizens Day! What age is Considered a Senior Citizen?

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Sep 21, 2009 23:50 japan society situation aging
(Thank you for reading my journal. One of the hardest parts of learning a language is trying to sound as native and as natural as possible. Even if you understand what I have written, please let me know if my phrases or word choices sound a little strange. Thanks.)

Today, the third Monday of September, is Respect for Senior Citizens Day (敬老の日, a national holiday). The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has announced that, in Japan, there are 40,399 people who are over 100 years old, and 85% of them are women as of the 15th of September. This is the first time that the number has topped forty thousand. In addition, women over 65-year-old comprise 25.4% of the entire female population, and men over 65 make up 19.9% of the entire male population.

Japan is well known for the longevity of its people. I've known for some time that we're facing a rapidly aging society, but actually looking at these numbers really brings it home.The statistics are really sort of staggering.

Speaking of which, I often wonder at what age you would be consider a person to be a senior citizen. Going off of the statistics such as one quoted above, it seems that the general consensus is 65. In today's society, people in their 60s (many of them are baby bloomers), seem to be very vigorous - even more active than young people.

Many of men in their 60s grew up in an age when rolling up one's sleeves and getting down to work was expected. They used to work extremely long hours and contributed the Japan's rapid economic growth in the 1960s and the 1970s. It seems that they have a habit of knuckling down to doing something and getting going on something. Many young men, on the other hand, seem passive. They tend to wait for others to act before taking action themselves, and rely on indications and advice from others. Many women in their 60s seem to enjoy their lives, taking care of their grandchildren or parents. All in all, I don’t really look at them as "senior citizens", as this generation still plays an important role in the society.

When I was doing marketing research at my job, many statistics showed that many people started having serious physical or medical problems that limit their activities when being around 75 years old. Going off of that, I would say a more realistic standard for considering someone a senior citizen would be the 75-year-old mark. Although having said that, there are many people in their early 80s who live on their own and are entirely self-sufficient, enjoying their lives. People who lived through the world wars and tremendously tough times after the wars are really strong and tough.