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Hunza and Japan: Longevity, Aging, and the Quest for Balance

The aging population is one of the most pressing issues confronting developed countries. The world’s industrialized economies are concerned about the recent birth rate and population decline in many nations, including Japan, South Korea, and China. Japan, for example, has the world’s oldest population, with more than one in every ten people now aged 80 or older. Another issue is Japan’s declining birth rate, which has become a national concern in recent years, and several government programs are working to address the issue. When it comes to having a high life expectancy, both the people of Japan and the people of the Hunza Valley in Pakistan are prime examples.

The reason for the comparison is quite simple: in order to address the rising issue of low birth rates and aging populations in the economies of the advanced world, we need to understand how other nations are still taking a balanced approach. For some years, Japan has tried to tackle the declining birth rate trend through various family planning programs where couples are encouraged to have babies, but such programs have been ineffective as the issue is still active. We need to understand how the overall way of life creates a major impact on individuals. Pakistan, with one of the world’s largest and youngest populations of 220 million people with a median age of about 20.6 years, also includes the people of the Hunza Valley from Gilgit, Baltistan. Known for their higher life expectancy compared to the rest of the people of Pakistan, the people of Hunza can be the prime example of how to achieve a balance in maintaining a population. We need to understand that the people of Hunza and the people of Japan have very different lifestyles, and the only common feature between them is their high life expectancy. Japan’s high life expectancy is mainly due to the strong health care system in the country and the general healthy diet. Hunza, which is part of Pakistan, doesn’t have a strong health care system, yet the factors that contribute to high life expectancy are due to their diet, as they consume a minimum number of processed foods and have a plant-based diet that is high in nutrients and low in calories. The people of Hunza have a more active lifestyle compared to the urban settlers. In Hunza, the daily routine includes walking, farming, and other forms of physical work.

We must recognize that urbanization has played a significant role in the declining birth rate, with city lifestyles and extensive office-based work styles being major factors in many urban couples having children. In Japan, the majority of the population is concentrated in major cities such as Tokyo, Osaka, Nagasaki, Fukuoka, and others, and many rural schools are closed because there are no children left in the area and many of the younger population has moved to cities. Hunza, on the other hand, is still untouched by urbanization, and nature is abundant, which has a significant impact on the Hunza people’s way of life. In addition, people in Hunza are known for having strong social interactions, and family bonds are prioritized in comparison to what we see in Japan. To achieve a balance between having an ideal population that supports the overall economy, the government must focus more on human welfare and an extensive family planning model appropriate to their nation’s needs. It is critical to strike a balance between the urban and rural sectors. Japan’s aggressive work culture, in which a person’s sole focus is on his profession, can also have a significant impact on an individual’s lifestyle.

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