Japan's Elderly Turn to Lives of Violent Crime

The economic pinch making it harder to make ends meet and you know what that means. Crime is back in vogue! And while bad people are doing bad things all over the globe, it's Japan's senior community that is causing the most ruckus.

Burglaries have seen an uptick in many areas of the United States. Drug gangs are battling it out in unexpected places like Copenhagen and the Arizona desert. White-collar financiers are pocketing as much loot as possible before their firms go belly-up. But one of the more curious crimes waves is occurring among Japan's senior citizens, who are confronting an increasingly weak social welfare state by resorting to violence.

Tokyo announced a series of initiatives to balance the national budget that has put seniors on edge. The government plans to cut $2.3 billion in public funding for national health which is raising drug costs for seniors significantly, thereby shrinking once solid pensions. There is also a growing sense of social isolation among the elderly who worry their needs will neither be addressed by the government nor their relatives.

All of this has led to 18.9 percent of all crimes in 2008 being committed by individuals over 60. Shoplifting is the most common problem but violent crime has seen an uptick as well with one 79-year old woman knifing passengers near a Tokyo rail station last year.

CEO of the American Association of Retired People Bill Novelli once told Big Think you can judge a society by how it takes care of its youth and how it takes care of its elderly. This does not bode well for Japan or many developed nations that are considering shrinking their social welfare budgets to make it through the recession.

If big thinkers young or old have suggestions for governments to balance their books while still attending to the needs of their aged, please discuss and debate them here.

How to vaccinate the world’s most vulnerable? Build global partnerships.

Pfizer's partnerships strengthen their ability to deliver vaccines in developing countries.

Susan Silbermann, Global President of Pfizer Vaccines, looks on as a health care worker administers a vaccine in Rwanda. Photo: Courtesy of Pfizer.
  • Community healthcare workers face many challenges in their work, including often traveling far distances to see their clients
  • Pfizer is helping to drive the UN's sustainable development goals through partnerships.
  • Pfizer partnered with AMP and the World Health Organization to develop a training program for healthcare workers.
Keep reading Show less

Why American history lives between the cracks

The stories we tell define history. So who gets the mic in America?

  • History is written by lions. But it's also recorded by lambs.
  • In order to understand American history, we need to look at the events of the past as more prismatic than the narrative given to us in high school textbooks.
  • Including different voices can paint a more full and vibrant portrait of America. Which is why more walks of American life can and should be storytellers.
Keep reading Show less

Jesus wasn't white: he was a brown-skinned, Middle Eastern Jew. Here's why that matters

There is no doubt that the historical Jesus, the man who was executed by the Roman State in the first century CE, was a brown-skinned, Middle Eastern Jew.

Hans Zatzka (Public Domain)/The Conversation, CC BY-ND

I grew up in a Christian home, where a photo of Jesus hung on my bedroom wall. I still have it. It is schmaltzy and rather tacky in that 1970s kind of way, but as a little girl I loved it. In this picture, Jesus looks kind and gentle, he gazes down at me lovingly. He is also light-haired, blue-eyed, and very white.

Keep reading Show less

Scientists claim the Bible is written in code that predicts future events

The controversy around the Torah codes gets a new life.

Michael Drosnin
Surprising Science
  • Mathematicians claim to see a predictive pattern in the ancient Torah texts.
  • The code is revealed by a method found with special computer software.
  • Some events described by reading the code took place after the code was written.
Keep reading Show less