Unprepared for times like these

Kyoto

Regarding the June 24 Big in Japan column, “The doomsday cult of 9-to-5 depression“: I would like to thank writer Michael Hoffman for a very well-written and timely article on the relentless rise of depression in Japan. There are, according to the business magazine cited by Hoffman, a wide variety of causes of depression, although I would take issue with the listing of global warming among them. Surely it is the fear of global warming induced by the alarmist camp, rather than any such warming itself, that is the root cause of any such depression. But that’s a quibble on my part.

One major factor driving the increase in depression is that we are living in an age of anxiety and diminished expectations. By and large, those of us under 60 were not brought up to have to face such a situation. I know many retired Japanese who tell me that they are enjoying their lives more now than when they were younger. These include people born into grinding poverty who have worked hard all their lives and seen their standard of living rise decade by decade to a level their grandparents could not have dreamed of.

On the other hand, plenty of retired workaholics who neglected to develop their social, cultural or creative sides are at a total loss as to what to do with their twilight years.

Meanwhile, many people below retirement age fear that they will never be able to retire, or even that they may be forced out of the workforce before they are able to build up enough of a nest egg to retire on. Add this to the other factors that Hoffman lists, and it becomes easy to understand why depression is on the rise.

How to reverse the trend, though, is another question entirely. If anyone has a practical solution, the nation is crying out to hear it.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

tim groves