In his classic The Constitution of Liberty F.A. Hayek points to inflation as one of the most pernicious ways government usurps the power of individuals to support themselves in retirement and increases dependency upon government-provided welfare systems. Writing in 1960, he showed how government-caused inflation had eroded—sometimes by two-thirds or more–the purchasing power of savings of a typical retiree in Germany, France, or the U.S.
In these circumstances, even people with a moral or ethical will to save and to remain independent of the state had been essentially robbed of this option by government actions, and—to make matters worse, if not hopeless—had been corrupted into becoming an interest group pushing for larger government welfare programs.
Read the rest of the story: Cutting Old Age Entitlements: Why Japan Can Lead the Way.
Toyota wants to help Japan’s aging population with machines than can help people move around with a leg brace and a personal transporter.
The Walk Assist Robot is made of carbon fiber-reinforced plastic and attaches to the legs of patients who have suffered paralysis to help them walk.
Weighing 7.7 pounds, the device has a position sensor on the thigh area, a pressure sensor on the sole, and a knee actuator that moves the brace based on data from the sensors.
Read the rest of the story: Toyota plans nursing robots for aging Japan.
There have been better times to be Japanese. Still battling the unappeased demons of stagnation, bloated national debt, and the sclerotic effects of an ageing population, the authorities now seem paralysed in their efforts to rebuild after the 2011 earthquake. Despite the country’s riches and technological know-how.
Initially it seemed Japan was coping well considering the overwhelming forces that pummelled the country following the 11 March quake. Now many are criticising officials’ efforts as being slow and badly synchronised. It’s not a reaction adequate for one of the largest reconstruction efforts since the Second World War.
The obstacles to rebuilding, and to the renewed vitality that many hoped would characterise post-quake Japan, are varied and many. Foremost must be Japan’s rigid administrative system, which historically has hindered the momentum sparked by volunteers in any domestic disaster. Many also blame ineptitude and political infighting for bringing the reconstruction to a stall.
Read the rest of the story: Has cronyism wrecked Japan’s long-term repair?.
Maria Fransiska, a young, hard-working nurse from Indonesia, is just the kind of worker Japan would seem to need to replenish its aging work force.
But Ms. Fransiska, 26, is having to fight to stay. To extend her three-year stint at a hospital outside Tokyo, she must pass a standardized nursing exam administered in Japanese, a test so difficult that only 3 of the 600 nurses brought here from Indonesia and the Philippines since 2007 have passed.So Ms. Fransiska spends eight hours in Japanese language drills, on top of her day job at the hospital. Her dictionary is dog-eared from countless queries, but she is determined: her starting salary of $2,400 a month was 10 times what she could earn back home. If she fails, she will never be allowed to return to Japan on the same program again.
Read the rest of the story: Japan Curbs Hiring Foreigners Even as Labor Shortage Looms.
In 1979 Ezra Vogel, a Harvard academic, wrote a book entitled “Japan as Number One: Lessons for America” in which he portrayed Japan, with its strong economy and cohesive society, as the world’s most dynamic industrial nation. Three decades later, Japan holds lessons of a less encouraging sort. Economists in the stricken West have been poring over the data on the deflation that it has suffered since the bursting of the asset-price bubble in 1990. Yet deflation may be just one symptom of an even bigger problem that, as our special report this week argues, is squeezing the life out of the Japanese economy: ageing. Unless Japan takes dramatic steps to re-energise its shrinking, greying workforce, its economy will suffer.
Other countries face this dismal prospect too. Although Japanese society is growing older faster than anywhere else in the world, plenty of others are shuffling along behind it.
Read the rest of the story: The Japan syndrome.