Regarding the Big in Japan column “A confused, senile future awaits Japan” in the June 26 edition, Michael Hoffman’s alarmist account of aging in Japan is wrong on several counts.

Actually, the absolute number of older people in Japan has now leveled off, and those with dementia will be increasing at a relatively modest pace. And Japan has hardly been caught unawares — the problems of the aging society (koureika shakai) have been front-page news for decades. With the 1990 Gold Plan and 2000 public long-term-care insurance system, Japan jumped ahead of most of the world in care programs for frail older people. More older people are in nursing homes or hospitals than in the U.S. and most other countries, and provision of group homes and of adult day care — the two best measures for dealing with dementia — is far higher than anywhere else.

Of course dementia is one among several difficult problems that come with population aging, but it is misleading to exaggerate their size and disingenuous to ignore the government’s substantial response.

John Campbell

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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