Tokyo Tidbit: Oldest Nation Sets New Record

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Today is a national holiday in Japan—they might not have a lot of vacation, but they do have a lot of holidays. This one, “Respect for the Aged Day.” That’s why the Ministry of Health released a slew of age-related statistics over the last few days.

A record 47,756 Japanese of a population of 128 million are at least 100 years old. In 1950, there were only 97 centenarians in Japan. The oldest two are 114. But you dudes out there don’t get your hopes up: 87% of them are women.

50% of the centenarians are self-reliant, or need only minimal assistance. 30-40% have no dementia. And 4% have no dementia, are self-reliant, and can hear and see well. Overall, they’re a happy bunch, research says, much happier than the young whippersnappers in their 80s.

Now, we remember the scandals last year when some of the oldest people couldn’t be found. Then they turned up as mummified bodies or didn’t turn up at all—pension fraud! So, to forestall any snide remarks, the ministry announced that this survey had been conducted more carefully. Alas, the tsunami threw another pall of uncertainty over the numbers as its victims were mostly elderly, many of whom will never be found. Despite the catastrophe, the number of centenarians rose by 3,300 over last year.

Another record: An astounding 30% of the Japanese are 65 or older. That age group will expand dramatically over the next decades due to the shift in demographics.

Now this: Some 80 wusses from the 400-member group of the Bavarian State Opera decided to skip their upcoming tour to Japan. They’re worried about getting exposed to radiation during the 18-day stay (the opera company is already flying in drinking water.) Yet, all these old people that are being honored today live in Japan day in and day out, and they drink the water and eat the rice, and they’ll probably outlive the Bavarians.

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