Everyone has heard the rumor that Japanese people live really long – but what are the actual numbers, how old do the Japanese really get? And is everyone really short, is everyone really as slim as people say? Let’s take a closer look at Japan and its numbers!
The World’s Longest Life Expectancy: 80.79 Years for Men, 87.07 Years for Women!
According to survey data from 2016, Japan boasts a long life expectancy with men averaging at 80.79 years and women at 87.05 yen. Accurate comparison to other countries is a little difficult because of different survey methods, but according to Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, it’s the longest life expectancy in the world.
Let’s look at some other countries in Asia for comparison: Taiwan boasts 77.01 years for men and 83.62 years for women (2015), China sits at 72.38 years for men and 77.37 years for women (2010), and Korea comes in with 79 years for men and 85.5 years for women (2014). By the way: the average for the United States is 76.4 years for men and 81.2 years for women (2013).
Major reasons for Japan’s famous longevity is modern medicine and eating habits. Compared to other developed countries, the national diet features little fat but plenty of fish, tofu, natto, miso, and other soy products. Green tea, a major staple drink in Japan, is rich in antioxidants such as Vitamin C and catechin, said to lower the risk of cancer and helps against arteriosclerosis. Factors that certainly contribute to a long life.
Abridged Life Tables for Japan 2015, Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare
The Japan Foundation for Aging and Health
Are Japanese People Short and Slim? Let’s Ask the Numbers!
The average height of 17-year old Japanese men is 170.7cm (5’6”) and 157.8cm (5’1”) for women. When it comes to weight, men weigh in with 62.5kg (137.7lbs) and women with 52.9kg (116.6lbs).
Some people might be surprised that the average height is still relatively tall! According to Japan's National Health and Nutrition Survey, the average height was still only 160.3cm (5’2”) for men and 148.9cm (4’9”) for women – that’s an increase of about 10 centimeters in the span of almost 70 years.
Weight, on the other hand, has had its peak between 1998 and 2006 before gradually dropping back down. It is said that this change is because of diet trends and healthy lifestyles that have affected a large part of the Japanese society.
Let’s compare that to other countries. In the United States, the average for men is 176cm (5’8”) height and 88.6kg (195.3lbs) weight, while women come in at 162cm (5’3”) and 75.3kg (166lbs) (2007 – 2010).
The tallest people in the world are from the Netherlands, where the average for men is 183.8cm (6’) and 169.3cm (5’5”) for women.
<@School Health Examination Survey 2016, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology
Physical Strength Test, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology|i@>
Anthropometric Reference Data for Children and Adults: United States, 2007–2010, United States Department of Health and Human Services
Japan’s Fertility Rate: 1.32 Children per Woman
Fertility rate is another topic that comes up a lot when talking about national averages. In Japan, the fertility rate was 1.46 children per woman. Especially Tokyo stands out with a much lower rate at 1.17 kids. Okinawa, on the other hand, is on the other end of the spectrum with 1.94 children per woman. Statistics also tell us that women between the age of 30 and 34 have the highest birth rate in Japan.
The fertility rates of other countries are 1.17 children per women in Taiwan, 1.21 in Korea, and 1.86 in the United States (all of 2014).
<@Vital Statistics, Ministry of Health、Labour and Welfare
“Sekaikakkoku no shusseiritsu,” Cabinet Office|i@>
Japan’s Average Monthly Income: 3,000 US Dollars for Men, 2,200 US Dollars for Women
As of 2016, the average monthly income of Japanese full-time employees was at 335,100 yen (about 3,000 US dollars) for men and 242,000 yen (about 2,200 US dollars) for women. That is an increase over the previous year and especially women’s wages are at an all-time high. However, the gap between wages is huge.
This can be further broken down into wages depending on business size. Men working for a large company take home 387,000 yen (~3,550 US dollars) on average, 323,000 yen (~2,960 US dollars) at medium-sized companies, and 288,500 yen (~2,645 US dollars) at a small company.
Women, on the other hand, earn a lot less on average. The average lies at 268,400 yen (~2,460 US dollars) in big companies, 244,000 yen (2,237 US dollars) in medium-sized companies, and 216,400 yen (1,984 US dollars) in small companies.
Japan’s Hourly Wages: 10.40 US Dollars for Men and 9.46 US Dollars for Women on Average
The average of hourly wages in Japan for short-time work and part-time jobs are 1,313 yen (~10.40 US dollars) for men and 1,032 yen (~9.46 US dollars) for women.
In the case of Tokyo, the hourly wages for convenience store and restaurant staff lie between 800 and 900 yen (~7.30 to 8.25 US dollars), while night-time shifts will pay around 1,000 yen to 1,200 yen (~9.20 to 11 US dollars).
Bonuses are common at Japanese companies and there is statistical data about them, too. Men in large companies got 2,030,000 yen (~18,615 US dollars) in 2015, while they paid their female employees an average bonus of 1,060,000 yen (~9,720 US dollars). The difference is large in smaller businesses as well: men took home 1,320,000 yen (~12,104 US dollars), while women got 810,000 yen (~7,427 US dollars). One reason for this massive gap is the absence of women in Japan’s management boards. Female CEOs are also extremely hard to come by.
Basic Survey on Wage Structure, Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare
Surprises, Shocks, and Revelations!
Looking at numbers alone can tell you quite a bit about Japan – surely, some things don’t surprise you at all while others come as a shock, both good and bad. In any case, there’s much and more to learn and cranking numbers can be unexpectedly fun!
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