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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class: News and Current Events in Japan, Season 1 - Lesson 20, Average Life Expectancy in Japan
Japan is currently considered one of the countries with the highest average life expectancy in the world.
In this lesson, we'll learn about this fact.

Lesson focus

"Average life expectancy" means "the average lifespan" of a child. In other words, "average life expectancy" shows how many years a newborn baby is expected to live. In Japan, it's 87.14 years for women and 80.98 years for men, according to 2017 data.
Life expectancy for both men and women exceeded the age of 80 and reached the highest record ever, though the position for the world's highest longevity was taken by Hong Kong and both Japanese men and women came in second. Nevertheless, Japan has become a "long life nation" rarely seen in the world. That's probably because as medical developments and technological innovations progressed along with economic development, diet and sanitation were also improved dramatically.
The average life expectancy just after World War II, was in the 50s, so it has increased by nearly 30 years during this 70 year period. Having enjoyed peace and achieving tremendous economic development is a major factor. Here, it can be said that the dream of longevity that mankind has longed for has nearly been realized. Therefore, Japan should be boasting to the world that "there are no people happier than Japanese people." The reality of the situation is not that simple, though. The country of longevity has become known as a "super aged society."
Social security expenditures account for more than half of the national budget, and many elderly people have problems, such as dementia or other diseases, poverty, and isolation. In Japan, the problem of "old nursing care" is especially serious. There are always tragedies where parents kill their child or a child kills their parent.
Without definitive breakthrough measures, the social security system continues to be inconsistent, and many Japanese people are feeling lost about how to live a "long old age."
In such circumstances, dealing with preparations for one's death is also becoming a topic. It is ironic that the next goal of the Japanese people, who learned how "to live long," is "how to die." We can see this as humans thinking about life and death and asking about "how to live life."
There are also movements that try to positively address "long old age," such as people choosing to die with their families by their side at home, without using lifesaving treatments, and people who maintain their health and work for social causes such as volunteers.
Anyway, we can say that the question of "to be or not to be" is an issue for current Japanese people.


Those are the key facts about Japan’s life expectancy and aging society.
If you want to find the related Japanese keywords, make sure to check out the lesson notes.
Okay, that’s all for this lesson. Thank you for listening everyone, and keep listening for more of the most talked about news stories in Japan!