Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Is this a longevity crisis? I have mixed feelings about longevity.

It's been reported that the average life expectancy of Japanese women has given up the lead to Hong Kong women for the first time in 27 years. In this report, two major reasons are pointed out. The one is that many people died from the massive earthquake and tsunami which happened about a year and half ago. The other is that the number of women in their 20's who committed suicide has increased. When I first heard of this news, I remembered that in the Tokyo area, for a while after that earthquake, trains were often delayed because of people jumping on to the rail track from the platform. Sadly, this kind of "accident" often happens in Japan, but during that period, my friends and I felt that train delays happened more often than usual due to people attempting to take their lives. I wondered why such many people were in a rush to die under the circumstances where tens of thousands of people had been washed away by the massive tsunami. I'm sure that these victims didn't want to finish their lives that way.

Japanese people, especially women, are known to live long. However, I've been wondering how many of them enjoy their lives without any medical support. I've heard that the longevity of Japanese people is questioned because they tend to be overly dependent on advanced medical treatment. As a matter of fact, the issue of what kind of medical treatment patients over 70 or 80 with a fatal disease should get has been controversial. More people than before frown on medical treatments for these patients just to prolong their lives. I think that this tendency has also put downward pressure on the average life expectancy of Japanese people.

I think that I know about pension, medical and nursing care service for elderly people better than others because of my mother-in-law with dementia. The more I know about that, the more I realize these services are on the verge of collapse due to the rapidly growing number of elderly people. On top of that, my experience has brought home to me taking care of elderly family members with dementia at home is a tough job. It's been reported that the number of people who were forced to quit their jobs to take care of their family members has sharply increased. It's very hard both mentally and financially to deal with these issues.

Every time I hear about the longevity of Japanese people, I have mixed feelings.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Confusing signs at train stations in Osaka.

How have you been? It's been a while since I last posted a blog article. Are you excited about the London Olympics ?

Anyway, about a month ago, I visited my parents' house in Osaka. It had been more than one year since I last went there.This time, I discovered some things I had never noticed before. I'll talk about the most surprising one. First of all, please see the attached pictures. Can you guess what these signs are for? I took the first picture at a platform of JR Osaka station, a central terminal train station at Osaka. When I found the sign in the second picture at another train station, my eyes were glued to it and wondered exactly what it indicated. I bet that the confusing sign shows JR, a large train company, has been having difficulties educating Osaka people. As you can guess, these signs are explaining how to queue for trains.

I was raised mainly in Osaka. I would say that Osaka culture had a lot of influence on creating my character, although it's been many years since I left Osaka and I'm currently living in the Tokyo area. Because of my background, I assumed that I was familiar to Osaka culture and custom. When I went to Osaka about a month ago, however, I was surprised to see how Osaka people got on a train. Every time I waited for a train at the station in Osaka, I did try to stand in line as I do in the Tokyo area, but it was hard to see which line was one to wait for a train. Some passengers tried to queue up, but some (sometimes many) didn't care about the line. Since some were eager to rush into a train while others were getting off, a peaceful station inevitably turned into a sort of battleground. In the Tokyo area, this seldom happens.

Actually, Osaka people are notorious for bad manners in Japan, although I often hear that people from other countries say they like Osaka more than Tokyo mainly because Osaka people are more friendly and good at expressing themselves among Japanese.

What do you think about these signs on the platform?