As Japan’s senior citizen population continues to steadily grow, changes in society occur regularly. We’ve seen inspiring tales of the elderly getting into modeling, mastering the latest technology, and forming idol groups. On the other hand we’ve also seen complaints of rampant spitting and pushing by Japan’s silver citizens.
And then we have a troubling trend which was discovered by the National Police Agency (NPA) which say that incidents of stalking perpetrated by people over 60 have increased 3.8 times in the past ten years.
Both the NPA and Tokyo-based stalking victim support organization, Humanity, have experienced this sharp increase first-hand and accredit it largely to elderly men who lose their wives to divorces or death. Both groups believe that more integration into society is needed for seniors at risk of stalking behavior.
The NPA conducted a survey of all reports of stalking including arrests, charges, and consultations and found that while stalking has unfortunately been on the rise in all age groups, it has increased twice as much with regards to seniors. The number of stalkers in their 60s went from 383 in 2003 to 1,329 in 2012 whereas the number of stalkers in their 70s went from 90 to 505 over the same period.
Humanity president Akiko Kobayakawa said that in the 14 years her organization has been active, about 20 percent of victims reported their stalkers to be “older men.” She feels that older men who have lost their wives have a heightened sense of both desperation and entitlement which causes them to relentlessly pursue younger women.
In Hyogo Prefecture alone, police reported arresting 37 people this year by the end of September for stalking. Among those, four were over the age of 60 including one 76-year-old who was arrested for calling a waitress in her thirties 62 times in two days after she refused to go on a date with him.
While many seniors in Japan have been shining brighter in their old age, more help will be needed to the others who, for whatever reason, have fallen between the cracks of society into some dark places.