Man dies in Japan after 25 hospitals reject admitting him 36 times

A 75-year-old Japanese man died after 25 hospitals refused to admit him to their emergency rooms 36 times over two hours, citing lack of beds or doctors to treat him, an official said Tuesday.

The man, who lived alone in a city north of Tokyo, called an ambulance after suffering breathing problems at his home in January.

Paramedics rushed to his house but were told in turn by all 25 hospitals in the area that they could not accept the man because they did not have enough doctors or any free beds, a local city official said, adding some institutions were contacted more than once.

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Cutting Elderly Entitlements: Why Japan Can Lead the Way

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.

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Japan’s Fiscal Cliff

As its current-account surplus fades into deficit, Japan will be forced to import money at high international rates to finance its government debt. Huge amounts of money creation by the Bank of Japan could temporarily postpone the ensuing debt death spiral.

Monetary easing, however, won’t help Japan address the challenges presented by its rapidly aging population, which will result in restraints on consumption that slow growth and increase the cost of government-debt service as a share of gross domestic product. Furthermore, retirees are consumers, not producers, of goods and services, putting additional strain on those still working to produce enough for their own needs and for the elderly.

Read the rest of the story: Strong Yen Won’t Survive Japan’s Fiscal Cliff.

Seniors take over Japans arcades gambling with retirement money

Once the preserve of rowdy teenagers, game arcades in Japan are rapidly becoming the hippest place to hang out for a whole new generation — their grandparents.

With plenty of time on their hands and cash in their pockets, well-behaved elderly customers make up a significant and growing number of those prepared to feed coins into machines for a few hours entertainment.

The so-called “silver market” is increasingly important for industries in Japan, where a plunging birth rate and a long life expectancy is leaving society increasingly top-heavy.And for the elderly themselves, arcades offer a chance to find fun and friendship away from the more traditional pursuits of old age.

Read the rest of the story: Space invaders: seniors take over Japans arcades.

Why Nations May Need Us to Work Years Past Retirement Age

By 2030, Japan is projected to go from today’s 5.9 persons in the working-age labor pool supporting each retiree, to 1.9 workers per retiree (see Figure 1). In essence, this translates to a three-fold increase of pressure on the workforce just to support the population base at that time. This issue for Japan, according to the United Nations World Population Prospects, the 2010 Revision study, is higher than most but is followed by Europe, and the US. Even China faces an increasing pressure as we approach 2050.

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Toyota plans nursing robots for aging Japan

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.

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Everyone Dies Alone – Not in Japan

Japan’s rapidly aging society, where nearly one in four people is over 65, means that more elderly are living alone every year – and also, sadly, dying alone, their bodies sometimes undiscovered for days.

But now, local authorities are teaming up with groups such as the post office to check in on senior citizens, increasing their human contact and improving their lives.

Tokyo’s Shinagawa ward, where last year at least 25 elderly died alone in their homes, in August began a venture with Japan Post in which postmen check up on people over 65 once a month by handing them seasonal greeting cards.

"We hope to strengthen ties within the community," said Akihiro Hara, a Shinagawa welfare official.

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Fewer children, but more college grads will Japan’s educated pay off?

The Economist in a recent leader deploring China’s “one child’ policy made the point that when  fertility rates decline—whether as a resultof coercion, as in China, or voluntary choice, as in Japan–they stay down.  In fact, they seem to get stuck in a downward cycle.  The lesson—probably too late for China—is that a below-replacement level “one child” policy sets a country on a path to demographic decline.Looking at Chinese or Japanese society it is not hard to understand why this is the case.  It has to do with societal competition and investment in children.  Simply, with fewer children—and particularly one child—parents, intent on ensuring competitive success, invest as much asthey can in the child.  Investment takes many forms, not just formal education, but buying a house in a neighborhood with the best schools, paying for informal and extra-curricular tutoring, classes, cram-schools, camps, foreign travel, etc. 

Read the rest of the story: Will Rising Investment Intensity in Japan’s Students Pay Off?.

Will an aging population wreck Japan’s long-term recovery?

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?.

On Multi-Culturalism, Japan Got There First

German Prime Minister Angela Merkel said it last fall. British Prime Minister David Cameron rendered the same verdict last month. But in can be said that on multi-culturalism, Japan got there first.  By “there” we mean: “not for us—it cannot work in Japan.”

Ask almost any bien pensant foreign (especially American) economist, businessman, bureaucrat or journalist how Japan should deal with its demographic challenge and the answer is always immigration. First among the major advanced countries (but with others in Europe to follow), Japan’s total population has begun a slow decline. It is currently about 127 million. While declining, with births failing below replacement level to deaths, the average age is increasing. Today the mid-point age of the total population from just-born infants to the oldest persons, is 44.7 years. According to U.N. estimates, by 2030 it will be 52.2 years, with over 30 percent of the population aged 65 years or older. (My next posting will go into detail on these U.N. figures.) This is a fairly horrific prospect.

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