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Japan Retains World's Longest Life Expectancy Says WHO World Health Report 2006

According to the World Health Organization's annual World Health Report 2006 released in April, Japan's population remained the world's longest, living with life expectancy at birth of 82 years for males and females combined in 2004. By sex, Japanese females ranked top in the world at a life expectancy at birth of 86 years, while Japanese men placed third at 79 years, on a par with their counterparts in San Marino and Iceland.
Among the 192 WHO member nations, 16 countries were reported to have life expectancy at birth of 80 years or more. They were as follows:

82 years: Japan, Monaco, San Marino
81 years: Australia, Iceland, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland
80 years: Andorra, Canada, France, Israel, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Spain

Twenty-seven countries, mostly in Africa, were reported to have life expectancy at birth below 50 years.

As for the percentage of population aged 60+ years, Japan had the highest figure at 25.6%. Countries having 60+ population proportion exceeding 20% were as follows:

25%: Japan, Italy, San Marino
24%: Germany
23%: Sweden
22%: Greece, Austria, Bulgaria, Portugal
21%: Croatia, Estonia, Switzerland, Andorra, Spain, Ukraine, United Kingdom

As Japan ranked top for both longest life expectancy at birth and highest percentage of population aged 60+ years, the health of the elderly deserves attention. The 2004 Comprehensive Survey of Living Conditions of People regarding their Health and Welfare conducted by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare includes data on the health of the elderly as follows:

Self-evaluation of health by age group in 2004

(unit:%)

Age group Total Those who think their health is good Those who think their health is fair Those who think their health is average Those who think their health is not so good Those who think their health is poor Not certain about the condition of their health
Total 100 24.8 16.5 40.4 10.4 1.5 6.4
65 and over 100 12 13.4 40.4 19 3.8 11.4
70 and over 100 10.2 13 39.4 21.1 4.4 11.8

As shown in the chart, the majority of the elderly population in Japan believe their health to be either "good" or "average." Even among the elderly population aged 70 and over, only approximately one quarter believe their health to be either "not so good" or "poor." Hence, most of the elderly Japanese appear to be in a reasonable health.

Reference: WHO World Health Report 2006 at http://www.who.int/whr/en/

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