I came across a company called Journeyman Pictures that distributes video footage including documentaries. One of the documentaries is ‘Geriatric Island – Japan’ available on YouTube here. The video gives a broad overview of a number of important issues about an aging population in Japan. As longevity in Japan increases and the birth rate decreases there are economic consequences. The documentary makers argue that this is leading to people saving rather than spending and the possibility of looking to immigration to increase the working population. As other countries are expected to have similar demographic changes there is global interest in how Japan adapts to these changes. There were a number of issues which the documentary quickly moves through which perhaps don’t have easy and immediate solutions. The narrator persuades us that there is an increasing homeless population due to the changing dynamics of society. This in turn they argue is due to the diminishing influence of confucian doctrine. Although we see a Japanese island where the average age of the population is 71, I thought the narrative was a little anxiety provoking leaving the audience with a number of problems to solve. I would have liked to have seen a closer look at the many benefits of these demographic changes. For instance society is defined not by the working population but by all members of the society. Although there may be economic problems for the working age population, what about the older adult population? After a lifetime of working they are now able to enjoy the benefits of retirement, wisdom, extended families and insights into the problems of society. Perhaps the changing demographics of Japan will lead to a new societal structure which will show the rest of the world how older adults can take a more central role.
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