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1.17.2007

This Week's Aging Japan Story: The Silver Scourge

Poor financial planning, inadequate pensions and a feeling of immunity to the law are driving Japan's swelling ranks of old people into a life of crime. According to the Tokyo-based National Police Agency, 10.9% of all crime recorded in Japan in 2005 was committed by people over the age of 65. Most incidents involved shoplifting, insurance fraud or minor scams. But the figures, released in early January, did not include arrests for injurious traffic accidents, most of which involve elderly drivers (particularly of taxis). With a quarter of Japan's population projected to be over 65 by 2014, the government is planning to unveil in March a series of proposals for beating the superannuated crime-wave.

News of Japan's criminal pensioners coincided with new statistics about its greying population. The Internal Affairs Ministry revealed in January that the proportion of citizens aged 20 had fallen to a record low of 1.09%.

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