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It shouldn’t be this way (“Growing old alone: Men face harsh times ahead,” Jan. 17). Many of these men worked hard to build Japan’s economic miracle back in the 1960s through the 1980s and now they face a bleak future with poor pension funds, reduced health care support from the government and, worst of all, terrible social isolation.

Japan is not a geriatric-friendly society and the government, run by all those LDP early Showa Era-minded politicians, simply doesn’t give a damn about Japan’s human infrastructure. Former Prime Minister Taro Aso expressed this best when he suggested that the elderly in Japan should “hurry up and die.”

It’s all about the “holy” GNP and economic growth, not much else in Japan. The LDP reminds me of a suburban couple in the U.S. who constantly worry about “keeping up with the neighbors,” having the best economic production and export figures at the end of the day but all else takes a back seat.

Now we’ll be seeing the growth of a geriatric gulag, millions of aged men and women who struggle for the basic necessities in life, fear any sort of major health crisis because of the medical costs and often find themselves living in horrible isolation. It’s another sort of ticking population time bomb and no one in Nagatacho seems to have a clue how to defuse this threat.

Japan looks like it’s going to abandon an entire generation, the greatest generation in the postwar era, the hardworking one that really did so much to create that so-called economic miracle. After a lifetime of sacrifice to Japan Inc., how many of Japan’s retired and exhausted salarymen and factory workers will soon find themselves “sold down the river?”

For millions upon millions of retired Japanese the future must look increasingly bleak, especially those who face old age in isolation after their spouse dies.

ROBERT MCKINNEY
TAMA, TOKYO

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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