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Maciamo
Sep 9, 2005, 13:54
Asahi News : U.N. ranks Japan 11th in world for quality of life (http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200509090153.html)


NEW YORK-As a place to live, Japan is becoming less desirable. For quality of life, Japan rates 11th in the world, according to an annual United Nations report.

It is the first time for Japan to slip from the top-10 rankings.

Quality of life is represented by a human development index that measures such factors as life expectancy, school enrollment ratio and per capita gross domestic product (GDP).

The report issued Wednesday was compiled by the United Nations Development Program. It covers 177 nations and territories.

Meanwhile, Japan ranks 43rd for the gender empowerment measure (GEM), an index that registers gains by women in the economic and political fields.

Japan's score is abysmal for a leading industrialized nation.

Japan topped the human development index in 1990 when the ranking was first compiled, and again in 1991 and 1993.

I find it strange that the quality of life in Japan should have decreased so much from 1990 to 2005. When I see the buildings built before 1990, and those being built now, I can see a tremendous improvement.

Women rights and working conditions have also improved. Women are less shy to denounce harassement or molestations, get married later and more have real careers. Koizumi's recent reshuffle of the LDP has included more female politicians than ever in Japanese history.

Japanese people are also travelling more, and more speak English than in the past.

In my opinion, the quality of life in Japan was just overestimated in 1990 rather than it having decreased since then.


Japan drew a low score due to the fact that Japanese rarely pursue higher education once they have secured employment.

This is in sharp contrast to other industrialized nations.

This is due to the education system that does not put much value in learning for itself, as opposed to study just to pass the exam. Japanese people on the whole do not like learning (because of their system).


The results also show that Japan has a long way to go in improving the social status of women.

The GEM charts inroads by women in corporate life as well as income differences between the sexes.

Of 80 countries compared under the GEM system, Japan was downgraded by five points from 38th place last year to 43rd this year.

But Tanzania, which ranks 164th in the list of human development index, is placed higher than Japan by being in 42nd place.

That is where we see that some "developing countries" are really developping, while Japan in comparison seem to be stagnating, even when some progress is achieved.

You can find more explanations as well as the top 30 and bottom 10 countries for 2005 on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_Development_Index)

Ardeo
Sep 9, 2005, 20:40
"Japan drew a low score due to the fact that Japanese rarely pursue higher education once they have secured employment."

Is this a good indicator of how well people in a given country are doing? I can totally understand someone not pursuing a higher education if their employment is providing adequately for them at home.
I think the author of that article is being overly critical on Japan. Think about it like this: Japan ranks ahead of the United States, France, Britian, Germany, Italy - countries with relatively large populations and economies.
All in all, Japan looks to be doing just fine, considering the other countries in the list.

Maciamo
Sep 9, 2005, 21:59
"Japan drew a low score due to the fact that Japanese rarely pursue higher education once they have secured employment."

Is this a good indicator of how well people in a given country are doing? I can totally understand someone not pursuing a higher education if their employment is providing adequately for them at home.
I think the author of that article is being overly critical on Japan. Think about it like this: Japan ranks ahead of the United States, France, Britian, Germany, Italy - countries with relatively large populations and economies.
All in all, Japan looks to be doing just fine, considering the other countries in the list.

You are right. Japan is still above most of the big Western countries. I also wonder how education became one of the three key factors for "quality of life". I would rather look at the diseases rate, time spent in ill health, size and comfort of accommodation (comfort is hard to evaluate, but can be calculated by the percentage of houses with TV, computer, insulation, etc.), life satisfaction, freedom, and of course equality between men and women and GDP at PPP, which are already counted.

I have made my own research on the topic. Some of my statistics are explained here (http://www.wa-pedia.com/society/japan_world_ranking.shtml)

Health & Life expectancy

Japan ranks quite high here. According to Nationmaster (http://www.nationmaster.com/graph-T/hea_lif_exp_at_bir_tot_pop&int=-1), Japan's life expectancy in 2005 is the 6th highest in the world, and highest among major countries. Obesity is low. The weak points are the high suicide rate, high percentage of smokers, and high incidence of osteoporosis and dementia among the elderly.

Accommodation

This is controversial. Although Japan ranks quite high when looking at the number of TV per household or other electronic equipments, housing is typically poorly built, smaller than in the West, and lack what is considered as basic in some Western countries, such as insulation, central heating or double glazing. 1/3 of houses are built in non-fire-proof wood. What is more, recent scandals have revealed that at least 20% of houses in Japan use potentially life-threatening asbestos. Overall, this leads me to give a bad score for Japan regarding housing.

Society

This one is also controversial. Crime rate is still very low in Japan, but women get molested more than in Western countries, juvenile crime is proportionally high, and social rules tend to be so strict that many Japanese resent it (which partly results in a high suicide rate, and many Japanese moving to Western countries).

Happiness

Nationmaster ranks Japan 34th in term of Life satisfaction (http://www.nationmaster.com/graph-T/lif_lif_sat&int=-1), behind all Western countries.

As for Happiness (http://www.nationmaster.com/graph-T/lif_hap_net&int=-1), Japan gets the 19th position, only before Spain, Italy and Portugal in the West.

Freedom & Democracy

Freedom in decision making (http://www.nationmaster.com/graph-T/lif_fre_in_dec_mak&int=-1) is the lowest among developed countries. As for political rights and civil liberties, Freedom House (http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0930918.html) has classified Japan as rank 1.5. It isn't bad on a worldwide basis, but Japan is in fact behind all Western countries and some others regarding political freedom. Likewise, World Audit has ranked Japan 25th for freedom of press, again behind all Western countries.

World Audit gives Japan the 30th position for Democracy, again behind Western countries. For corruption, Japan is 21st, behind all Western countries except Portugal, Italy and Greece.

Equality between men and women

As the article from Asahi said, Japan (43rd worldwide) is well behind not only developed countries, but many developing countries too (behind Tanzania !).

Economy

After 15 years of economic depression, Japan now ranks 17th in terms of GDP at PPP, but is still at comparable levels to France, Germany and the UK. However, Japan's public debt is much higher (in percentage of GDP) than any Western country, which is not promising for the future of the economy.


Conclusion

Apart for its high life expectancy, relatively good health, low crime rate, and reasonable GDP per capita (far from exceptional though), Japan ranks well behind Western countries in all other fields, from freedom, democracy and gender issues, to quality of accommodation, life satisfaction and happiness. So can we really consider Japan a good place to live from the point of view of quality of life ? Worldwide, yes, but comparing to almost any Western countries certainly not.

Silverpoint
Sep 10, 2005, 00:39
I would consider my quality of life has signficantly improved in many ways since leaving London. But then this may be why the UK now ranks only 15th ;-)

I think looking at the Wikipedia commentary, it would appear that really this is primarily a measure of GDP per capita, Education and life expectancy. I think the problem here is that really the writer of the Asahi article has just overstated the importance and scope of the study in that these three elements are just a few of the factors that contribute to so called "quality of life" (a phrase which doesn't seem to be used by the UN at all).

Maciamo
Sep 10, 2005, 17:07
I have written a summary on the quality of life in Japan compared to other countries (http://www.wa-pedia.com/society/japan_world_ranking.shtml), using as many reliable sources as possible (U.N., Wolrd Bank, WHO, World Audit...). It appears that Japan's 11th position is an overestimation.

nurizeko
Sep 11, 2005, 22:29
In developed countries, quallity of life depends on what you considor quality.

I find that my life fits me perfectly, i wouldnt want a big bulging mansion or penthouse in the middle of a big huge busy city with everything at my fingertips all day and night.


Anyway about japan, i wouldnt know, ive never lived there.

Mars Man
Sep 13, 2005, 14:56
A lot of good research there Maciamo !! :cool:

I don't know, it's just in me to take such statistical reports with just a few grains of salt--far less than the usual 'a little', mind you. Maybe it's just the 'margin for error' thing that is usually there in some way of another. Not that I wish to disprove or deny the results and/or conclusions, but that perhaps a bit of a margin for pockets of 'here' and 'there', even within the whole, should be mentioned, or considered.

The gender thing is noticeable, yes, one of the lady professors here at the school and I have discussed this a number of times. Democracy and freedom of press and speech--one can get flack for not saying a 'right' phrase at a certain time--could definitely be bolstered a lot.

On education, again, yes. They've been instilled with the you've gotta make a goal concept--no thought given to after that--but it IS changing. Just yesterday I met one married lady with three children who's attending Shinshu University (the prefectural university & hospital) studying medicine. I really encouraged her to do her best, to not give up, and as such to set an example for the many of other, esp. women, who just surrender to home, husband and children after marriage--learning, generally, knows no age !!

Happiness?? I bet you'd find a lot more of it out here in the country side-like areas. But that may be the same anywhere in the world.

However, I would pose one question, namely, considering the results to be a fair representation, then what? This is broad, I know, and NOT to be misconstrued as being antagonistic nor pessimistic, but simply a desire to see what the results may be seen to be calling for or implying beyond just the facts presented as the results. I'm curious, that's all.

A nice thread and posts. :cool:

livingjapan
Oct 14, 2005, 22:46
japs rank with the lowest position

lexico
Oct 14, 2005, 22:55
Hi ! :wave: Umm, some people here ARE Japanese, so can we do something about the spelling "jap" ? I'll erase this once you got a look at it and, hopefully either spell it out or abbreviate it to jpn (according to some forumers, this is okay, so I hear.).

Index
Oct 14, 2005, 22:58
Freedom & Democracy

Freedom in decision making (http://www.nationmaster.com/graph-T/lif_fre_in_dec_mak&int=-1) is the lowest among developed countries. As for political rights and civil liberties, Freedom House (http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0930918.html) has classified Japan as rank 1.5. It isn't bad on a worldwide basis, but Japan is in fact behind all Western countries and some others regarding political freedom. Likewise, World Audit has ranked Japan 25th for freedom of press, again behind all Western countries.



Japanese citizens actually have a very high level of civil liberties. This includes the right to protest and stage demonstrations. The interesting thing however, is that the government is quite impervious to change because of unrepresentative electoral demarcations, a very strong bureaucracy, and the dominance of the LDP. It's a peculiar situation.

nurizeko
Jan 6, 2006, 09:46
Asahi News : U.N. ranks Japan 11th in world for quality of life (http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200509090153.html)



I find it strange that the quality of life in Japan should have decreased so much from 1990 to 2005. When I see the buildings built before 1990, and those being built now, I can see a tremendous improvement.

Women rights and working conditions have also improved. Women are less shy to denounce harassement or molestations, get married later and more have real careers. Koizumi's recent reshuffle of the LDP has included more female politicians than ever in Japanese history.

Japanese people are also travelling more, and more speak English than in the past.

In my opinion, the quality of life in Japan was just overestimated in 1990 rather than it having decreased since then.



This is due to the education system that does not put much value in learning for itself, as opposed to study just to pass the exam. Japanese people on the whole do not like learning (because of their system).



That is where we see that some "developing countries" are really developping, while Japan in comparison seem to be stagnating, even when some progress is achieved.

You can find more explanations as well as the top 30 and bottom 10 countries for 2005 on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_Development_Index)

I agree mac, from what ive seen while im here, apart from a bit of urban crunch, japan is sweet, you never go hungry here, more high technology in the house then where i live, women seem fine and doing okay, not all the world can be raging feminists like some western women.

Life seems better in japan then my own home town, i mean, the lack of central heating and stone walls means staying warm is a bit more of an effort then lazing in my boxers and a tee-shirt, but, nothing drastic.

Im a home-town boy and if i can get not only used to japan, but in love with the place within 2 weeks, and be living quite comfortably, then i highly doubt japan is so poor life-quality wise.


i love ome.....i thought i loved scotlands wild hills and valleys, and farmlands and small towns and cities, and i guess i do.....but that was my cradle, im 20 now and ive found a new life and a new home, ome is home to me now, i love ome now.....i wish i could stay forever.......

geek alert but i guess its like when frodo returns to the shire from you know, saving the world and stuff, it just isnt the same to him....the only difference is he still wanted to go home.

i think the people judging quality of life of japan obviously werent looknig at it from ground level, from the view of those living here, you cant put a label or price on someones home and life and say it is somehow substandard.

Japan might have its problems, it might never get on with china, some westerners might always have to face the minority of japanese who want to push away western things, which will basically be the end of japan, but, to me, thousands upon thousands, millions of japanese.....and to us precious few thousands of foreigners, japan is as good as it gets.

and this is comming from someone who isnt even a raving otaku or japanophile.

So teenage otakus and japanophiles, forget the fantasy japan you envision, it doesnt exist, but if you come with an open mind, japan can be just as special in other ways.

Plus yakisoba is just the f~~~~~g s~~t. :p

Maciamo
Jan 6, 2006, 17:27
Im a home-town boy and if i can get not only used to japan, but in love with the place within 2 weeks, and be living quite comfortably, then i highly doubt japan is so poor life-quality wise.

I also stayed in India, and to tell the truth, depending on where you live, you can get the image that India is the paradise on earth, or hell on earth... That's why it is important to look at the average. Japan is certainly better in average than India, but I would say closer to China or Thailand than to Belgium.

How many Japanese homes have you visited ? Have you trying peeking discreetly through the open window of houses while walking around ? I have walked all around Tokyo (love exploring cities on foot) for four years, and visited many homes (friends, students, etc.), but never have I seen a home that look reasonably nice enough compared to what I was used to in Europe. FYI, I did visit an appartment in the Century Park Tower in Tsukuda (from where I took this picture (http://www.wa-pedia.com/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/26)), i.e. one of the most expensive place to live in Tokyo (monthly rent of 750,000 yen for a 2LDK), where sports stars and celebrities live. That was what I would describe as "average" in Belgium (apart from the view).

nurizeko
Jan 8, 2006, 18:11
True, i even had to explain to my g/fs family as we passed what passes as a large house and garden in japan that in britain, that is roughly between just below to normal avarage.

I also had to explain that homes and stuff without a garden are the minority in the UK.

They have what passes as a nice expensive flat in japan, and i guess it is by japanese standards, but to me, its just about smaller then even a council rent apartment in my home city.

home-size aside, i still like japan.

What i was trying to get at is that small dwellings aside, its hardly a somalian slum-hut, after-all im assuming you live here in japan correct?, and youve said before that you like japan and stuff (while still discussing important issues, and running this website?.... :> ) so, its still okay, dropping to 11th place doesnt mean japan has decended into an experience comparable to a concenctration camp or something.

If i had my way there would be more public spaces and homes have more garden space but, i can adapt to it so it cant be all that bad.
It may also be a cultural thing, even country homes seem a bit needlessly small.

Maciamo
Jan 8, 2006, 18:20
What i was trying to get at is that small dwellings aside, its hardly a somalian slum-hut, after-all im assuming you live here in japan correct?, and youve said before that you like japan and stuff (while still discussing important issues, and running this website?.... :> ) so, its still okay, dropping to 11th place doesnt mean japan has decended into an experience comparable to a concenctration camp or something.

What made you think so ? 11th out of 230-or-so countries is not bad at all. In fact, I was surprised that it was not more like 25th of something (at least regarding home space and comfort, and purchasing power), which is still good, but less good than many Western countries or even Singapore. Anyway, it is somewhere in the top 10% worldwide.

yukio_michael
Jan 9, 2006, 13:55
In developed countries, quallity of life depends on what you considor quality.

I find that my life fits me perfectly, i wouldnt want a big bulging mansion or penthouse in the middle of a big huge busy city with everything at my fingertips all day and night.

That's not true, otherwise you could claim that being 'poor' were simply a life choice... (Actually, the Japanese magazine Area (http://www.pliink.com/mt/marxy/archives/000787.html) seemingly did just that---) Quality of life is determined by a baseline level of goods and services (say, owning a car--- owning your own home or at least living in one instead of an appartment--- being able to afford Pizza-la pizza... etc)...

If most people have to shop for their groceries at a 99en shop, and a select group of people are able to actually afford to eat out on a regular basis, I'd say that's highly indicative to the overall quality of life, anywhere.

gaijinalways
Feb 8, 2006, 22:53
Many people have talked about that in Japan. You also have to think about what is most important to you as livng longer but in misery might be a lower quality of life.

I enjoy Japan, but yes, but accomodation could be a lot better. That and the Japanese perception of preserving nature needs to be overhauled. A better balance between access to natural areas and not 'ruining the view' needs to be taught here (I once had a city barber tell me a bout a forest that turned out to be about 5 trees).

godppgo
Feb 10, 2006, 16:20
You are right. Japan is still above most of the big Western countries. I also wonder how education became one of the three key factors for "quality of life". I would rather look at the diseases rate, time spent in ill health, size and comfort of accommodation (comfort is hard to evaluate, but can be calculated by the percentage of houses with TV, computer, insulation, etc.), life satisfaction, freedom, and of course equality between men and women and GDP at PPP, which are already counted.


I think there's a logical reason why education was included as one of the three key factors for quality of life. Many social issues have their roots traced back to education. For example, a higher-educated population will be more awared of the cause and consequences of diseases and as a result, less likely to contract diseases. Freedom could also be a end result of educated population. An authoritarian government will have less success in brainwashing a highly educated population as they are more informed of the outer world.

I agree with you on the comfort of accommodation being one of factors to consider. However, Japan will probably do poor in this category since space are so limited in Japan and it would be really difficult to have an ample living space (no yard, smaller tub, smaller sofa...etc).