In greying Japan, caregiving concerns drive some families to murder

In greying Japan, caregiving concerns drive some families to murder
PHOTO: Reuters

TOKYO - Parents were the most frequent victims of killings within families in Japan, according to the first study by police of annual intrafamily murder, highlighting the burden placed on care givers in a rapidly aging society.

The study of cases reported in 2014, released Tuesday, showed a third of 272 murders or attempted murders within family groups that year involved an attack on a parent by their offspring. Attacks on spouses or children each accounted for around a quarter of cases.

The most commonly cited motive was "concern about the future," accounting for a third of all cases. Reasons given within that category included care giving and financial worries.

Japan is one of the world's fastest-aging nations, a phenomenon that creates social and economic stresses as pension and welfare demand rises. Japanese longevity adds to the burden, with around 300,000 elderly waiting for places in nursing homes, according to latest government data.

Photo: The Wall Street Journal

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has promised to build more elder-care facilities to help people who otherwise might have to care for aging relatives.

In its latest forecast on Monday, the welfare ministry projected that the proportion of people aged 65 or older in the overall population will rise to 38.4 per cent in 2065 from 26.6 per cent in 2015.

Accounts of care givers killing a parent or spouse occasionally make national news headlines. Earlier this month, a 73-year-old man in southern Japan confessed to killing his 74-year-old wife, saying he was exhausted by providing her with nursing care at home.

Elderly poverty in Japan is also on the rise among those without family support.

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