• Kyodo

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A series of deep cuts in welfare assistance is hitting poor seniors hard, a group whose swelling numbers are giving poverty in Japan an older face, a U.S. newspaper reported Friday.

A front-page story in the Washington Post said that as Japan, the world’s most rapidly aging country, struggles to cope with exploding health-care costs, it is cutting back on its universal health-care system, pensions and welfare benefits for seniors of all social classes, “but those already living on the margins are being hit the hardest.”

The Post cites the example of Gosuke Kakizaki, 73, a man living alone and entirely dependent on the state, who saw his pension payment slashed from $826 to $625 a month.

Over the past decade, the number of indigent seniors nationwide skyrocketed by 183 percent to about half a million people, according to welfare ministry statistics.

Most of these older poor are victims of the protracted economic slump Japan endured in the 1990s, and many have been abandoned by their offspring, who have spurned the tradition of living with elderly parents, the article said.

Nearly half of the people on welfare in Japan are now 65 or older, the Post said, quoting a government report. By comparison, only about one in 10 welfare recipients in the U.S. is a senior citizen.

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