MUSINGS / Nov. 23, 2018

The Yomiuri Shimbun The following is a translation of the Henshu Techo column from The Yomiuri Shimbun’s Nov. 23 issue.

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Soon after I thought cold days would continue, the warm sunshine suddenly streamed down on me. A weather phenomenon called “koharubiyori” in Japanese, which means a “mild late-autumn day,” seems to appear only in mid-latitude countries. It is apparently called “old wives’ summer” in German.

My limited knowledge does not extend to the origin of the German expression. But when I hear the words as cold wintry winds are blowing, they have a heart-warming ring. When I look at aged people walking in a park or elsewhere, the words pop into my head. However, the circumstances were different yesterday.

There was a story from Kagoshima Prefecture that was carried in the morning edition of the newspaper. It was found that six residents at a residential nursing home for the elderly in Kanoya in the prefecture had died one after another in a one-month period. They were all women, aged 85 to 97.

Among 10 staff members at the facility, all eight employees who were in charge of taking care of the residents had quit their jobs. The facility explained the reasons for their leaving their jobs as being due to “complaints about interpersonal relations and allowances.” When I heard the reasons, I was at a loss for words. Although the causal relationship between the labor shortage and the deaths at the facility is unclear, I get choked up inside even more because there were many mild days in this autumn. I wonder whether there were staff members at the facility who opened windows and curtains for those women to let them take in the warm sunshine in their last days.

Based on the law concerning the prevention of abuse against elderly people, the Kanoya city government has launched an on-site investigation into the case. The name of the law got me thinking. Violence is not the only form of abuse.Speech

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