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Capturing Contemporary JapanDifferentiation and Uncertainty$
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Satsuki Kawano, Glenda S. Roberts, and Susan Orpett Long

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780824838683

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824838683.001.0001

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The Aging of the Japanese Family

The Aging of the Japanese Family

Meanings of Grandchildren in Old Age

(p.183) Chapter 7 The Aging of the Japanese Family
Capturing Contemporary Japan

Susan Orpett Long

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter examines the relationships of grandparents and great-grandparents to their grandchildren and great-grandchildren, with particular emphasis on the meaning of grandchildren in aging and old age in the Japanese family. It first considers changes in the Japanese family over the twentieth century before assessing what grandchildren mean to elderly Japanese today. The discussion draws on the results of previous descriptions of grandparent–grandchild relationships and on a series of interviews conducted between 2003 and 2007 among a largely working-class sample of thirty elderly people eligible for long-term care insurance in Tokyo and Akita. Regardless of physical proximity, grandchildren play important roles in the lives of the elderly, for example, as sources of secondary assistance and support and through emotional bonds of love, mutual concern, and pride. Grandchildren also help remind old people of historical and generational changes that have accompanied their own aging as well as issues of cross-generational relations.

Keywords:   grandparents, grandchildren, aging, old age, Japan, family, grandparent–grandchild relationship, elderly, cross-generational relations

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