The Dankai generation refers to 7 million Japanese baby boomers born between 1947 and 1949. They will begin receiving their pension from next year, posing a huge fiscal burden to the Japanese government. Pension payments will go up from 50.3 trillion yen (611.1 billion dollars) in 2009 and to as much as 65 trillion won (789.69 billion dollars) in 2025.
Ishi: Massive public projects increased the fiscal deficit until the 1990s, and in the 2000s, revenue shortages and welfare expenditures led to a ballooning of the deficit. Japanese has no choice but to choose between a cut in welfare benefits and tax hikes. Politicians are well aware of this but cannot think about doing so because the Dankai generation, who will soon become pension beneficiaries, accounts for the largest segment of voters.
Dong-A: Korea's national debt is also growing rapidly.
Ishi: Korea's national debt-to-GDP ratio was 33.8 percent in 2009, a stable amount compared to Japan's. But Korea must realize that the figure, which was 28.7 percent in 2005, has inched up every year. If national debt begins growing, it can easily spiral out of control. In 1977, Japan's debt was similar to Korea's at 32 percent but doubled to 60 percent in 1983 and soared to 100 percent in 1997. It took just 13 years for the figure to exceed 200 percent.