Elderly Japanese Turning to Jail in Golden Years
Japan is known as being one of the safest countries in the world, statistically, thanks to a no-nonsense take on even minor crimes -- but many of the country's elderly have turned that into a retirement plan.
According to the BBC, the Land of the Rising Sun has been seeing a rise in crimes committed by people over 65 for the past 20 years. Why? Ask 69-year-old Toshio Takata: "I reached pension age and then I ran out of money," he tells BBC. "So it occurred to me - perhaps I could live for free if I lived in jail."
Takata rode a stolen bike right to the police station. Thanks to strict Japanese laws, that was enough to buy him a year behind bars. After he was released, he looked for a longer stay, so he picked up a knife and out the door he went. "I went to a park and just threatened [some women]. I wasn't intending to do any harm. I just showed the knife to them hoping one of them would call the police. One did."
For that crime, he's been in jail for four years, with four more to go, he tells the BBC. All the while, his government pension still accrues. "It's not that I like it but I can stay there for free. And when I get out I have saved some money."
Shoplifting is the most common crime committed by those who can't survive on their meager pensions, and instead seek the government-funded "three hots and a cot" behind bars.
In fact, as many as one in five crimes committed in Japan are done so by those over 65. "Even women in their 80s who can't properly walk are committing crime," an elderly female jailbird.