Rapidly ageing Japan is facing a crime surge among its senior citizens, a government report says.

"The number of people aged 65 or older arrested for crimes other than traffic violations totalled 48,605 last year, up from 24,247 in 2002, the Justice Ministry said in an annual crime report. Elderly crimes rose 4.2 percent in 2007 from a year earlier, though the total number of people arrested fell 4.8 percent to 366,002.
Thefts, such as shoplifting and pick-pocketing, were the most common crimes committed by older people, the report said, citing low income, declining health and a sense of isolation as the main causes of the trend. Serious crimes such as murder and robbery were less prevalent among seniors than younger people.
The report said elderly crime is growing at a much faster pace than the population of senior citizens."

About one-fifth of Japan’s population of 128 million is 65 or older, and the proportion is expected to double in the next 30 years. The retirement of the baby-boomers within five years means Japan “must make a fundamental review of anti-crime measures”, says the report. It cites low incomes, unstable employment and living conditions, and weakening ties with relatives and neighbours as factors. Prisons are having to renovate their facilities, modify forced labour and provide nursing care for elderly convicts. ~ Herald Tribune, Nov 7


Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is the former deputy editor of MercatorNet