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When life brings you happiness.

Japan knows the ways to live long, respect age, and make serious business out of it.

Another world record was recognized in Japan: 29.8 mln people, which is 23.3%from the whole population were over 65yo in 2011. According to forecasts elderly people will step over 40% of population by 2055. Japanese do believe such growth is economically attractive for the country.

One popular newspaper Nikkei (Japan economy news) published in its 2012 magazine an article called: "How to assist the society with working population of 75yo". There were no question mark at the end of the phrase as the was hypothetical statement, not the task.

Japan becomes older very fast, starting from 1880-s that tendency hasn't changed ( number of population over 65yo grows 0.5% annually). The country was scared with such demographic perspective at the beginning, producing a great number of apocalyptic forecasts of the sunset of Japanese civilization. However, the depression period didn't last long. Japanese took it as a call to fight with aging, which brought unexpectedly positive results. People were convinced aging is not a catastrophe for the country, age weakness can be turned into strength as an additional element for economical society growth.

Age force

According to the State institute for social security and population issues Japanese population is decreasing: it reached its peak of 87 mln in 1997, it was 81.3 mln in 2010. The forecasts stating it will decrease by 46 mln by 2055 , meaning 50% of working population. Japan slowly moving towards a problem when 50% of working population won' t be able to provide for the same number of retirement population. The decision was founded: aging should not be seen as barrier for active living and work. Scientists said legal competence age extension up to 75 yo will make 70% of population working for their country. This was taken as a target by the Japanese authorities.

To be a pensioner in Japan is something special. Average expectancy of life in Japan is 90 yo, and Japanese are full of energy when retired at the age of 65 ( officially the retirement starts at the age of 60). Besides Japanese pensioners have very good one-off retirement pay, which is 20% from all earned salary during 30-40 years. In addition many pensioners inherit the wealth of their relatives therefore they are quite wealthy at their age.

Financial experts say the majority of GDP is concentrated at the hands of elderly population. And the country is keen on the proper distribution for this wealth. Therefore the country needs to develop special programmes attracting aged clients.

Beauty industry understood new strategy pretty fast. Kanebo Company was the first developing Chicca make up line, offering eye shadows and lipstick for women of 50-60yo. Another Beauty leader, Shiseido Company, 4th world's sales leader, offered new product for 60+ population -Elixir Prior .

Vehicle for veterans

Automotive industry may become attractive for elderly population. Lately more than 200 thousand Japanese refused to drive the car as it became difficult for them due to health reasons. Such decrease in demand worried not only government authorities but also OEMs. Decision followed very fast: Toyota Company together with Tokio Argo-Technological Institute and Tokio University developed a programme for safety driving among elderly population. Professor Nagai Masao said : " we were developing intellectual driver prototype enable to analyze the road situation and take the decisions".

The car consent has been produced. " Smart vehicle" will recognise when acceleration and brakes are used incorrectly and assist the driver to choose the safety driving mode. It will also prevent car accidents, informing the drive on traffic lights, turns, stops.

In addition " smart vehicle" has extra lightning assisting to drive at night and under bad weather conditions; special mechanisms for easy doors and trunk opening. Vehicle electronic system allows to choose a safe route with limited number of cross-roads and oncoming lane turns.

Some of the elderly people won't need "smart vehicles" as they are pretty good drivers at their age. Many veterans abandoned 2009 governmental introduction of " elderly driver" sign mandatory for all drivers over 75 yo. Then came an "autumn leaf" sing, which was taken by elderly population as an offense. So, as a result, the government introduced "spring leaf" with white "S" letter in the middle.

Body without aging

An ability to overstep natural aging barriers is the key thesis for all Japanese marketing researches.

Health issues would play the main part to reach the set targets. Senses of vision, hearing, chewing are the key ones for medicine to allow aging processes come smoothly. New medicine should find advanced decisions how to replace glasses, osteophones, dental prosthesis allowing elderly people to continue enjoying their life.

Electronic assistants to every single home.

Japan annually publishes ‘White book of ageing” , where government offers its initiatives to create a universal society, offering labor opportunities to all citizens: teenagers, women, elderly people and invalids. Last year book announced IRT programme, combining IT and Robot technologies. This programme is aimed to create new robot generation assisting elderly people to do housework, carry its owner, assist with shopping, provide safety and driving services. Seven Japanese companies are working at this project: Toyota, Olympus, Sega, Toppan, Fujitsu, Panasonic и Mitsubishi expected to be delivered in 2016.

Nowadays, some Japan companies already produce electronic assistants: Cyberdyne Systems, robot-exoskeletons, enable to use its sensors when attached to the owner’s skin. It assists invalids to move, and walk upstairs. It uses battery to operate; one charging enables to operate for 3 hours. Total weight of such robot assistant is 23 kilos, 5 months rent cost 1750 USD.

Internet for elderly people

Last year Tokyo University and R&D center of NHK television Company started a new project on developing a special programme offering different jobs to the elderly people via Internet. The purpose it to outsource elderly people for different elements of one Job, distributing the responsibilities by qualification. All communication is done via Internet only, what allows to safe time and distribute the responsibilities more efficiently. Today, a great attention is dedicated to a number of volunteer jobs distributing among elderly people via Internet. For example Jamasita-san network offers guide assistance to tourists, assistance to remove wrongly parked bicycles, accompanying kids on the way to school, teaching Japanese.. Last year they recruit a lot of volunteers for post emergency situations.

"Silver perspective"

There were 47 756 people at the age of over 100 y.o. (87,1% women) living in Japan last year. This number grew 312 times for the last 50 years. There are a lot of literature telling about life after 100 y.o. The most popular is “101 method to avoid marasmus when you are 100 y.o.” by prof. Takudzi Sirosava, gerontologist. He teaches how to keep physical and mental health.

Each Part of his book is a practical advice to future centenarians: limit your calories to extend your life; keep a 2 days dairy to train your memory; be stylish; travel to actively use your brain.

By Ludmila Kotova, Tokyo - Moscow 

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