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Report: Elderly Japanese turning to crime

TOKYO, Dec. 24 (UPI) -- The elderly in Japan are turning to petty crime, including shoplifting and pick-pocketing, to help make ends meet, the nation's Justice Ministry said.

A government report found that last year, 48,605 Japanese persons age 65 and older were arrested in crimes other than traffic violations, which is more than double the number five years earlier, CNN reported Wednesday.

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"The main reasons they shoplift are poverty and loneliness," said Kazuo Kawakami, a former federal prosecutor. "The traditional Japanese family is gone, and now our elderly live alone."

Japan's economy lapsed into recession this year, and at the same time, the nation's pension system has been beset by corruption, leaving many pensioners worrying about their future.

CNN said on Japan's northern island of Hokkaido, more elderly than youths -- by a 3 to 2 ratio -- were arrested in 2006.

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