10% of Japanese at least 75

Kyodo News

Japan has become “a full-fledged” aging society with almost 10 percent of the population now 75 or older, according to a government report released Tuesday.

The 2008 White Paper on Aging Society says the number of people aged 75 or older increased by 540,000 from a year earlier to 12.7 million as of Oct. 1, 2007, representing 9.9 percent of the total population, up 0.4 percentage point.

The population of the aged — defined as being 65 or older — was an all-time high of 27.46 million, up 860,000 from a year before. Seniors accounted for 21.5 percent of the total population, up 0.7 point.

The percentage will keep growing, reaching 40.5 percent in 2055, while the total population will decline to 89.93 million, the white paper estimates, based on statistics compiled by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research.

The white paper defends the government’s newly introduced health insurance system of deducting insurance premiums from pension benefits of those aged 75 or older to help finance surging medical needs of the elderly.

On average, insurance premiums are lower compared with those under the previous system, the paper says.

On pension-record blunders by the Social Insurance Agency that rocked society in the past year, the report stresses the government’s remedial efforts.