By Ohashi Jozu, TOKYO – With the world’s largest aging population (78 million Japanese are currently over 80 years of age) the tiny island nation of Japan has what you might call a national obsession with national health. Newspapers, television and fashion magazines regularly serve up healthy helpings of tips and cautionary tales to a health-starved populous, all designed to maximize beauty and extend lifespan.
“Everybody knows that the Japanese live forever, but they don’t appreciate the extraordinary lengths to which Japanese people go in order to achieve the stated national goal of living the longest,” said Dr Ray Goolens, a long-term foreign resident of Japan.
According to Goolens, who has a Japanese wife and is studying Japanese in his free time in cafes, 97.4% of Japanese over 60 never leave their homes during daylight hours. The reason for this aversion to the outdoors, apparently, is fear of freckles.
Visitors to Japan are often taken aback when they come into contact with older Japanese women clad head to foot in massive ominous black UV protector sun visors and shoulder-length gloves. Commonly known as “black widows”, such ladies often cause moments of jarring cultural misunderstanding in those unexperienced with the deep pragmatic streak which unifies Japanese culture, informed Goolens.
“I saw these four women standing round the train station. They all looked like Darth Vader,” said Swiss tourist Gretchen Searle, a 22-year-old philosophy student. “Their faces were obscured by the extremely large brims of their UV visors. They scared me; when I went home I had a nightmare about it.”
Despite such drastic fashion measures, a new Japanese Health Ministry report reveals that exactly how effective one’s efforts are in delaying the effects of aging seems to depend on how early a person engages in an active role in building up the body’s defenses towards nature.
Significantly, it appears that for older people who already are beginning to look ugly, resorting to use of black gloves and visors may simply be a case of too little, too late. On Tuesday, Health Minister Taro Ken dropped a health bombshell when he unexpectedly revealed that:
“As much as we would like to be able to say that our extra-large black sun visors and shoulder-length gloves are offering maximum sun-protection, the data shows that very few older men and women are aging in an attractive way.”
When asked what he meant by “aging in an attractive way” Taro elaborated, “As you know, the Japanese national ideal in terms of aging for men over 60 is Sean Connery. In the case of women for the past fifty years it has been Audrey Hepburn. It is with great regret that I must offer my opinion that we are currently failing the Japanese people in this regard.”
When asked if he would then resign over the issue Taro said “Er, no.”