40.5% of population to be seniors by ’55: report

Compiled From Kyodo, AP

Elderly people are expected to make up 40.5 percent of Japan’s population by 2055 if current trends continue, according to a government report released Friday.

According to the 2007 White Paper on Aging Society, Japan is likely to become an “unprecedented” aging society when the portion of the population aged 65 or older almost doubles in 2055 from the 20.1 percent recorded in 2005.

In addition, each elderly person will be supported by only 1.3 working people in 2055, compared with 3.3 people in 2005.

Japan became the world’s most aged country in 2005, overtaking Italy in terms of the percentage of elderly in the population.

As for life expectancy, the report projects the average life span in Japan to lengthen to 90.34 years for women and 83.67 years for men by 2055. In 2003, Japanese women set a new record for life expectancy at 85.3 years, while the men lived for an average of 78.3 years.

The white paper recommends that companies promote employment of the elderly and help people in their 50s and beyond shape their postretirement plans, emphasizing it is possible to make an aging society “a more vibrant one.”

It also urges a shift in people’s mind-sets to consider elderly people as “invaluable manpower” rather than “people who need support.”

In addition, this year’s white paper sheds light on the aging of Japanese baby boomers for the first time, projecting that the number of elderly will increase by 1 million every year between 2012 and 2014, when most baby boomers turn 65.