Japan from the inside out

Japan’s elderly a risk to reform

Posted by ampontan on Friday, June 20, 2008

GIVE CREDIT where credit is due: Reuters’ Linda Seig gets it right when she reports that the demands the elderly are placing on Japanese social services are a threat to fiscal reform.

“It’s quite clear that the older you get, the more dependent you are on public services so the older you get, the better big government sounds,” said Jesper Koll, CEO of investment advisory firm Tantallon Research Japan. “The risk is very high of being dragged toward bigger government and greater inefficiency.”

Here’s a hopeful sign: some in the opposition Democratic Party of Japan favor taking a conscientious approach to policy rather than use the dissatisfaction as a political weapon.

Not all influential Democrats agree with the party’s current strategy and many of their policies are still sketchy, so just what steps the party would take if it took charge is murky.
“We can’t simply pander to the elderly,” former party chief Katsuya Okada told Reuters in a recent interview. “If we did, younger generations would criticise us.”

The younger generation also might pull the plug on the old folks’ life support system.

And extra credit should go to Reuters for noticing that the DPJ’s policies “are still sketchy.”

Here’s some more background on the realities of Japanese demographics.

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