View Full Version : Japan's high life expectancy

Sep 27, 2004, 14:14
Japan Times : Japanese women outlive everyone (http://www.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/getarticle.pl5?nn20040717f2.htm)

The life span of Japanese women, already the longest in the world, grew to an average 85.33 years in 2003.
The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry's 2003 "abridged life tables," released Friday, show the average life expectancy of Japanese women grew 0.10 year from a year earlier, extending the record for the longest average life span into the 19th consecutive year.

Japanese men also set a new record. Their average life expectancy was an average 78.36 years in 2003, up 0.04 year.
But worldwide, Japanese men rank third after their counterparts in Iceland, whose life expectancy was 78.7 years between 2001 and 2003, and in Hong Kong, where the average male life span was 78.6 years in 2002.

Reflecting the fact that a record 23,377 men committed suicide in the reporting year, the figures show the difference between Japanese men and women widened by 0.06 year to mark an all-time high of 6.97 years.

I think that Japan's long life expectancy, is due to the following :

1) healthier diet and relatively mild climate (except maybe winters in the North)

2) Japanese people do not worry much about anything else than money and security, and as for most people this is usually less a problem than anywhere else in the world, Japanese should be more relaxed. The important is that most Japanese do not care/worry about politics, religion, strict morals or the philosophical meaning of life - so from this point of view they are very relaxed.

The collectivist mentality also allows for more peace of mind, as they don't have to worry about being different, better than average or express their individuality. They can just be happy by doing the same as everybody. Feeling part of the group also certainly help them being stronger and more balanced psychologically. It is also still very common for several generations of Japanese to live under the same roof, and so elderly people do not suffer from solitude or hardships as much as in Western countries, where they usually live by themselves. This certainly has a huge impact on life expectancy, since psychology is as important physical health or diet.

Oct 10, 2004, 11:32
RIGHT ON!! :wave: One more reason to convince my wife to go...she's hesitant for some reason or another... :?

Dec 14, 2004, 03:11
I think that worrying about money is one of the most stressful things you could ever think of... But maybe you meant people that are relatively well off?

This certainly has a huge impact on life expectancy, since psychology is as important physical health or diet.
Why doesn't anyone ever mention this? They always talk about food but this is a really good point, too.

Dec 14, 2004, 10:19
I think that worrying about money is one of the most stressful things you could ever think of... But maybe you meant people that are relatively well off?

I don't think money ranks in the top 5 most worrying things for me. I'd that happiness, security, achievements, world peace, understanding the world and trying to better it, etc. are all more important than money. Actually, I could live with almost nothing but food and a roof (and internet ;-) ) without feeling much needs for the material possessions of the world. I am not Buddhist (I still need Internet ;-) ) but I feel that I am one of the only person in Japan that can be said to be near-Buddhist. 99,999% of the Jpanese only believe in the superstitious part of Buddhism which comes from Taoism (eg. butsumetsu, taian and others days of the week) or from Hindusim (Kannon the goddess of mercy...).

Frankly, I would prefer that all the world think one time clearly about religion and the meaning of life, and stop believing in gods, superstitions, etc. than being given 1 million US$. Just to show how money is unimportant compared to peace and stability in the world and the abolition of religions (one and same thing really).

Btw, true Buddhism as taught by Gautama is not a religion, people after he died have made it a religion. I don't think there are many people who could be considered real Buddhist outside the subindian continent (most of them, like the sadhus, call themselves Hindu though). But likewise I am yet to meet a Christian that lives in perfect accordance with the rules set by Jesus (which is probably more difficult, esp. the "love and forgive all part").

Dec 14, 2004, 17:32
I have a pretty low income (full-time university level students get about 400 euros a month, depending on their rent, from the government for a certain period of time) but I still consider myself quite happy. I have had to worry about money a lot sometimes, though, and I can say it's one of THE most stressful :p things a human being can have... If you have to live for 2 euros for a week or so you would probably agree ^^;

I'd say that if you can pay your rent and bills (electricity, water, phone etc) and buy food and have a little left over for going out etc you can still be pretty happy if you have something to do. That's why the unemployed are depressed even though they get money fromt he government.

When people talk about Japanese women and how they spend money on clothes etc, has anyone ever pointed out that they might be addicted to shopping? Calling yourself a shopping addict probably doesn't sound as credible as being a drug addict, but you still get instant (temporary) gratification out of it. And it's a lot easier not to think what you're trying to compensate with the shopping.

This ahs nothing to do with the subject but...
Some religions maybe (okay.. Christianity :P) have the problem that they promise love and forgiveness and encourage it but the ones who don't believe in the particular god are sent straight off to hell even if they're better people than the believers. The whole question of believing in the god or not bends the matter into an entirely trivial direction: are the teachings of the religion (don't kill people, be nice ot other people) less important than having to fight about the existance of the god? Of course I realise that the whole thing is based on the fact that a god is almighty and without the god nothing exists, but the whole thing seems just too trivial. Maybe people just need somekind of a "heavenly mandate" for their actions so they can feel better about themselves. Isn't it so that if you have a set of rules that you have to live by you are more likely to bend them according to what suits you rather than deny they exist at all - that gives acting by morals a whole new meaning :P

Feb 22, 2005, 06:30
I always thought it was because of a healthy diet.

Nov 22, 2005, 08:52
EDIT by Maciamo : Split from Interesting facts about Japan (http://www.wa-pedia.com/forum/showthread.php?t=20455)

Why is it that Japan has one of the highest life expectancies in the world? Could it be the food they eat? More vegetables and fish? It sure can't be lifestyle as some people have said that Japan is probably one of the most stressful countries to live in and it is said that stress causes more premature deaths among humans than anything else. I mean they live with the threat of a deadly earthquake on a daily basis; they live in small cramped quarters; everywhere you go it is so crowded; driving is a nightmare; there is basically no privacy. Could it be their philosophy of life? Hmmm, something to look into.

Well, let's not overlook the fact that Okinawa brings up the average. Their lifestyle is much different from that of your average Tokyoite, as are the lives of many who live outside of major metropolitan areas. Japanese cuisine is relatively healthy, daily exercise is practically a given (if you don't walk a mile/day in a city, consider yourself lucky...or lazy), and there is a proliferation of young people who aim to avoid all that stress by staying a "freeter." Traditionally, half the parents stayed home to take care of children, mind the home, and care for the elderly.

I believe the land ration refers, at least in part, to the amount of arable land.

Nov 22, 2005, 14:20
Right, but does it really "bring the average up"? Maciamo (I think) recently posted statistics of the population dispersion throughout the country. Kantou has roughly 30% or so... which is a LOT in one area. Kansai has another big chunk, then some small chunks for the other cities. Okinawa and the rural areas are pretty small in the big picture. I would like to know what percentage of the country lives in a city <= 150,000 people.

Well, I didn't mean to imply that Okinawa's relatively small population (1.3 million according to wikipedia) would have made a huge difference, but seeing as how it has the longest life expectancy in the world for a specific region, I figured it couldn't hurt. I wouldn't mind seeing those numbers either, but having experienced life in the city and in the country, I didn't think there was a huge difference in lifestyles...of course, I was living with old people.

Nov 22, 2005, 19:10
The furthest I've lived from the city was Shizuoka. My family-in-law lives in the sticks of Shikoku. From what I have witnessed, my host father in Shizuoka, and my brother-in-law in Shikoku, both share what I would assume is the most stressful of the Japanese lifestyle - work, and lots of it. I think it's safe to say the only thing different in the country is that it's not quite as cramped.

Nov 23, 2005, 02:37
I spent time in parts of Kanazawa and northern Saitama outside of Koga, and it was about as country as I'm willing to get. I think the biggest difference for me was how much earlier you have to end your night if you plan on sleeping at home. From the central Kanazawa station to my house by bus took almost an hour, and my stop was the end of the line. After that it was a good 25 minute walk through rice fields and snow, which meant in order to get home at a normal hour, I'd be on my way a bit after 10. Conversely, while living in Tokyo, I routinely had shuuden around 12:30, and was still able to get a decent amount of sleep.

I was also struck by how much less quick food was available. I hesitate to call it fast food, because it's inevitably and inexorably tied to places like McDonald's, but I couldn't really find a convenience store within 15 minutes of where I stayed, which is unheard of in a concrete jungle like Tokyo. Can't help but think that affects the eating habits of the young in a way contrary to the influence of American fast food imperialism.

Nov 23, 2005, 10:23
IN Shizuoka, if I thought ahead and got a bicycle, I could stay out until the shuuden, which was midnightish. It was a hefty ride bike on the bicycle, but doable, even in the cold. If I didn't have the bike, I needed to take the bus, which stopped at about 20:30. Talk about a boring night.

No rice fields though. :)

Nov 28, 2005, 10:28
I just watched a CNN mini report about the life expectancy in Okinawa.
They asked this 103 (or so) year old woman how she was still so young and healthy. She told about when they were younger everybody worked in their gardens planting their own vegetable which they later ate. So the combination of exercise, healthy food was the reason according to her.
She also recommended getting a young man as she proudly displayed her "toy-boy" of about 80 years old.

Regarding money, just because you have plenty of money doesn't mean you don't worry about it. Japanese people don't really compare themselves financially with other countries but rather with each other. But maybe older people do worry less than the younger people seem to . The people I know are constantly worried about their financial future.

Personally, I think Japanese people stay alive because of the medicine they seem to take for any conceivable illness. From colds, to slight headaches to the more serious illnesses. They see to be a pill popping nation, unlike my country where we have one of the lowest life expectancies in the western world, maybe because of our dislike of pills.

But of course I'm not qualified to say for sure about any of this.

Mar 21, 2006, 12:10
but I feel that I am one of the only person in Japan that can be said to be near-Buddhist. 99,999% of the Jpanese only believe in the superstitious part of Buddhism which comes from Taoism (eg. butsumetsu, taian and others days of the week) or from Hindusim (Kannon the goddess of mercy...).

Thank you for pointing out this. Personally I am a Tibettan Buddhist. Buddhism is not a religion. It's a way of life through, which we may ourselves take on the responsibility of determining how our life-bearing karma will work out for us. It's a path of self-enlightment. There is no God, but a God inside every one of being, a Buddha inside every one of us. It's a path of self-enlightment.


Mar 21, 2006, 13:23
The Japanese seem to place a bit more importance on image than in other countries. I think that in itself is a stress, as well as an added financial stress (in one city, graves must be cleaned and the flowers replaced weekly, or one is seen as slovenly).

I would agree that the Japanese don't worry a whole lot about politics, religion, or the philosophical meaning of life. Most Japanese would give these topics just enough thought to say they are difficult topics.

The older Japanese went through a lot of hardship, and I think they learned a lot about what is truly important in life. They might have a learned easygoingness when it comes to a financial setback, or illness that the younger people don't.

Ost Prussia
May 2, 2006, 14:11
I highly agree with Mr. Androo point! I recently read a college text book on Japan, the book highlighted the large suicide ratio in Japan; (which a found very sad and).The worst part being they were mostly kids 10-16. They said the cause was over pressure from such thing as, Education, parental, social,
ect........soooo sad..........Of course i'm probably steriotyping!.....hmmm...

May 3, 2006, 06:08
Some believe that Japanese live long because their diet is macrobiotics

People who choose to follow the macrobiotics diet believe food, and food quality, affects our lives more than is commonly thought. It is thought to affect our health, well being and happiness. They claim it is better to choose food that is less processed, more natural, use more traditional methods of cooking for family, friends, and oneself.:nihonjin: