November 29th, 2008

Whatever happened to respecting your elders?

And here I thought the Japanese were supposed to be one of those peoples who revered the elderly, with a culture that featured exquisite politeness.

I guess that’s all changed now, at least if we consider the evidence offered by Japan’s relentlessly non-PC Prime Minister Taro Aso, who decided it was verbal open season on the aged.

The rather aptly named Aso attacked old people for their lack of exercise, calling them “hobbling malingerers” who are “always tottering off to the doctor.” Maybe something was lost in translation, but Aso’s remarks don’t seem inclined to garner him a great deal of support in a nation in which one-fifth of the population is over seventy.

Aso is sixty-eight himself, by the way, and a former Olympic clay pigeon shooter.

7 Responses to “Whatever happened to respecting your elders?”

  1. GeoPal Says:

    No surprise. As the huge population backlog of Baby Boomers arrives at old age they will be seen more as a burden, especially with any significant economic contraction. The expedient always trumps the traditional when it comes to the State – ALWAYS.

  2. Peter the Alaskan Kid Says:

    I guess the conservative Aso is upset about the continuing tradition of state health care in Japan whose costs he has to deal with.

  3. Jimmy J. Says:

    This is a problem without a satisfactory answer at the present time.

    We were made to move. For many thousands of years movement was the means to hunt and gather food. It has only been in the last 100 years that our labors have been taken over by machines.

    As a pilot I earned my living by sitting in a chair, but my continued employment was dependent on maintaining good health. So, I developed the habit of regular exercise as an employment insurance policy. The doctors who performed my physicals every six months told me I was doing the right thing and to keep it up. Fortunately, it had become an ingrained habit and when I retired I continued to exercise. I can well imagine how much more difficult it would be for someone who has not formed the habit of exercise to begin or to be regular in getting some exercise.

    A year ago I read the book “YOUNGER NEXT YEAR” by Chris Crowley and Dr. Harry Lodge. It explained why exercise is very good for everyone, but is especially beneficial for old guys and gals. At 75, my energy levels were not what they once were and there were days when I felt like skipping my exercise session. However, their book inspired me to up my exercise from 3 days a week to 6 days a week. It has made a positive difference in how I feel. As Chris Crowley says, we old retired types need to think of exercising as our new job. It’s something we have to do just like eating and sleeping. It may not extend my life or protect me from accidents but has improved the quality of my life and energy level. I recommend the book to anyone over the age of 45 as something to inspire you to become healthier and more fit for the rest of your life.

    Prime Minister Aso ought to try to motivate the Japanese to read “YOUNGER NEXT YEAR” rather than browbeating and insulting people who have no habit of exercising and don’t know what happens to their bodies when they don’t exercise. Positive leadership is usually far more effective than browbeating or carping.

  4. Gray Says:

    When my elders were WWII vets and depression survivors or Korea Vets who lived through WWII as kids, I respected them….

    But now my elders are “me-generation” boomers who declared an ‘end to history’, call me a ‘kid’ in my 40s; left their families to “find themselves” and banned everything previous generations did as they got older.

    F them. You can’t yell “Trust no 1 over thirty!” and expect me to respect you when you are 68.

    (not you, neo, or the fine boomer posters on this site, besides, you are all too young to be my ‘elders’ yet. But don’t call me ‘kid’–I’m 40….)

    But really, ‘the elders’ aren’t what they used to be and 68 year old Taro Assho? You old boomer–when you become a ‘hobbling malingerer’, I’m going to push you down some stairs.

    My retirement plan is: “Dying at my Desk”. I don’t wanna hear nobody talk about Respect who’s been retired for the past 30 years while I’m working into my 80s to pay off the gimmee’s they voted for themselves!

  5. Gray Says:


    Come to think of it–some kid born in Japan in 1940 isn’t really much of a ‘boomer’, probably more of a ‘buster’, but he has no business denigrating the ‘elder generation’ that got his country nuked when he was 5.

    Erm, wait a minute.

  6. OldTexan Says:

    I think the Japanese respect their ancestors more than their elders so why not turn elders into ancestors, with deep bowing respect and let them do the honorable thing. Sit down cross legged, drink a bit of saki and fall on your sword you hobbling old vermin, then you will become ancestors.

    And Gary, those of us born during the war before the bomb are still 63 years old and we are not whining boomer mutants or worse, clueless alphabet generation people. Show us a just little respect since most of us did step up and wear green clothes and held back the commies while the hippies were messing the crap out of everything back home.

  7. Bogey Man Says:

    Aso is often compared to George W. Bush. The first thing Japanese people say about him is that he can’t read kanji. He gained that reputation by misreading statements in public and by bragging that he enjoys reading comic books, in which the kanji are spelled out in smaller type above in the simpler syllabic kana characters.

    As for the respect for elders thing, it is inherent in the culture of Japan — subject to very little ebb and flow in popular sentiment, and utterly regardless of what a walking semi-literate gaff machine like Aso says.

    Ironically, Aso’s father, Shigeru Yoshida was Japan’s first postwar prime minister and credited as being either the greatest or one of the greatest ever. Safe to say Aso owes his career to nothing more than chance of birth. How’s that for honoring your elders?

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