National / Social Issues

Welfare-dependent elderly households top 50% of total in Japan

Kyodo

People aged 65 or older accounted for more than half of all welfare-dependent households in Japan in March — tipping over the 50 percent mark for the first time, the government said.

Of the 826,656 households made up of elderly residents on welfare, an increase of 18,357 from February and a record high, 90 percent comprised a single person, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said Wednesday.

The ministry said the total number of households made up of seniors hit 12.21 million as of June 2014.

Based on the figures, those on welfare roughly accounted for 6 percent of all elderly households.

The latest data shed light on the worsening plight of poorer senior citizens living on welfare, with no relative to rely on in a rapidly aging society. They receive little or no pension benefit after retirement.

“The elderly cannot find a job or receive enough income even if they work,” a welfare ministry official said, predicting the trend will continue.

The number of welfare recipients has been decreasing among working-age populations thanks to improvement in the job market amid economic recovery, but an increase in the elderly on welfare is expected to push up the total number of recipients, the official said.

In March, the total number of households living on welfare in Japan rose 2,447 from the previous month to hit a record-high 1,635,393.

The number of individual welfare recipients increased 2,847 from the previous month to 2,164,154, accounting for 1.71 percent of the nation’s total population.

The number of “other households” that include persons who are able to work but are on welfare stood at 266,172, while single-mother households receiving welfare came to 100,924 and those with someone ill or disabled on welfare reached 433,167.

The numbers in these three categories of household all declined from the previous month.