NewsCase StudiesEvents

The third in a 3-part series on the economic impact of aging in Japan

Also in the news...

International Trade Secretary opens the Global Investment Summit

Secretary of State for International Trade, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, welcomes overseas investors and delegates to the Global Investment Summit in London.

Croatia: providing services and travelling for business

Guidance for UK businesses on rules for selling services to Croatia.

Prime Minister and Bill Gates launch £400m partnership to boost green investment

The strategic partnership with the Breakthrough Energy Catalyst will mobilise £200 million of private sector funding over 10 years.

What is the Superbonus and how to benefit from it, even if you donít pay Italian income tax

Itís recent news the Superbonus 110% has been recently extended to 2023, and this is great if you intend to renovate your home. Superbonus 110% isnít the only available tax break on house renovations; find out how you can save on your taxes whilst renovating your Italian home.

VAT DIRECT REGISTRATION IN ITALY

If you have a VAT number in your EU country and you want to sell to individuals (with no VAT number) in Italy, you are required to have a VAT number in Italy. Back in the days, you were required to set up an entity in Italy or have a fiscal representative located here; this process is costly and develops multiple tax and accounting issues.

The third in a 3-part series on the economic impact of aging in Japan

Back to News

Despite its crowds and fast pace of life, Japanese society retains an air of politeness, ongoing respect for traditional values and a low crime rate. On this last point, a recent report by the Japan Times showed a 40% drop in crimes from 2,800,000 in 2002 to 1,700,000 a decade later. Putting this in perspective, this is about 1,360 crimes per 100,000 Japanese residents compared to 3.466 per 100,000 in the United States.

Bucking the trend

In keeping with this overall trend, the number of shoplifting cases has reduced to about 140,000 a year. However, shoplifting perpetrated by people aged 65 or older has risen at about 11% per year for the last 2 decades. Shoplifting by Seniors now stands at about 27,000 cases a year or 20% of the national total.

So why are Senior Citizens bucking the decreasing crime trend and resorting to shoplifting? Three reasons are usually offered:

  • The primary reason given is that the very limited financial support given by the Japanese social security system compels the elderly to steal. Noting that 80% of the items stolen were valued at •1,000 or less, this is unlikely to be a major contributing factor

  • There are more Seniors meaning we would expect a rise in the number of crimes committed by this segment of the population. This argument is counter to the experience in America where the number of shoplifting offenses involving Seniors as a percentage of all shoplifting offenses is only marginally trending upward

  • As the population ages, there is a rise in the number of citizens suffering from dementia. A behaviour of dementia sufferers is to rationalize that items belonging to others is in fact their own thus leading to a degree of inadvertent shoplifting

A less flattering explanation

While the above regularly proffered reasons will be minor contributing factors in the rise of shoplifting by Seniors, a more plausible explanation provides a less flattering view of contemporary Japanese society.

The Japan Times reported a Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department study on the motives of 1,050 shoplifting suspects, 204 of which were Seniors. Of the 204, 55% were single, 40% were living alone and 90% reported to have few friends. About half the participants stated that they had nothing to live for with a quarter describing themselves as very lonely.

Petty crimes by Seniors seems to be more a tragic means of seeking human attention than an economic necessity or demographic statistic. If shoplifting is indeed a reflection of a social need, the solution is for Japan to do more to ensure its rapidly increasing numbers of Seniors stay active and healthily connected to family and friends.

Authorís Note:

This last explanation may also foreshadow emerging social needs in other advanced economies with aging populations

You are not logged in!

Please login or register to ask our experts a question.

Login now or register.