Regarding the June 5 editorial, “Japanese life index“: Japanese people need to find their own healthy lifestyle to achieve a measure of happiness. Additional items from the latest “Your Better Life Index,” prepared by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, records Japan’s life expectancy at 82.7 years, highest among the OECD countries. To my surprise, however, the percentage of respondents who reported being in good health was only 33 percent, second from the bottom and much lower than the OECD average of 69 percent.
People’s anxiety about health lies principally in people themselves. As medicine has advanced through increasing specialization, many Japanese people, including doctors, have found it difficult to clearly define the state of perfect health.
People receive regular medical checkups and feel relieved when they confirm that no serious problems were found during a physical examination. It sounds paradoxical when you have to keep looking for abnormality to feel that you are in good health. Is this not putting the cart before the horse?
People have to understand that there is a limit to what regular checkups are able to reveal about the body, however carefully they may be conducted. Moreover, Japan’s skyrocketing national debt might prevent individuals from accessing medical services in the future as freely as they do now.
I would like to recommend that people read “Yojokun” (Life Lessons), which was written in 1712 by Kaibara Ekiken, a well-known Japanese Confucian scholar. Yojokun states that the purpose of staying healthy is to enjoy a happy and fulfilling life. This may help you find something beneficial in your daily life.
Even in a society where medical technology develops at a tremendous rate, conventional wisdom might be able to improve “Gross National Health,” which represents a state of physical, spiritual and social welfare.
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.
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