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National Holiday Celebrates Japan’s Aged

Date Posted: 2000-09-22

Japan celebrated Senior Citizens’ Day last Friday, a national holiday here. 21.9 million Japanese, 17 percent of the population, is aged 65 or more, the third largest portion of the total population among the countries of the world.

Among the world’s countries, Sweden has the largest percentage of its population aged 65 or more, followed by Italy. In Okinawa, 13 percent of residents are over 65. So although Okinawans live the longest in Japan, the average age of Okinawans is among the youngest in the nation.

Another distinctive feature in Okinawa is that many of the elderly participate actively in the workforce, as exemplified by 99-year old Sue Asato who works every day together with her daughter in their beauty shop in Kitanakagusuku. “I still can set up curlers on a customer’s hair faster than anyone else in this shop,” Asato boasts.

As for the secret of her vitality, she says that one should never give up. “Ten years ago I fell gravely ill, but I just decided to become healthy again, and so I did, and have never been sick since,” she testifies.

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