Just before her 100th birthday, one woman in Hyogo Prefecture sadly decides to blow out the candles for good.
Just before 7:00 a.m. on March 7, a 22-year-old university student and his friend were walking along a beach in Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture, when they discovered a body floating in the water.
After alerting authorities, police officers rushed to the scene to find the body of a 99-year old woman about two meters (6.6 feet) from the shore, who had been a resident of the neighboring city Amagasaki. Upon questioning the woman’s family, they learned that the woman, not wanting to live in old age alone, had a strong desire to die before the age of 100, and the authorities now believe that her death was a suicide.
While this may sound like an extreme action to take at the thought of turning another year older, it highlights the serious shrinking population issue currently affecting Japanese society. With the norm being adult children living in separate housing from their parents, in less than 20 years it’s expected that over half of those past 50 will be living alone.
Although the Japanese government has been trying to address issues like these over the last two decades, it has done very little to address the long working hours and childcare concerns that would-be parents in Japan must contend with, and the subsequent plummet in the birthrate that has resulted in fewer people with less time to care for the elderly.
In order to prevent tragedies like the one that took place in Hyogo from occurring, perhaps the government should promote the development of mixed child and senior care centers. Not only do they provide working families with much-needed childcare supervision, they can make senior citizens still feel needed in an ever-changing society by giving them the opportunity to interact with and teach the country’s next generation.