Not one, but three news items about the plight of the elderly in Japan crossed my screen this morning.

From the Nuffield Foundation, an article on Japan’s Long Term Care Insurance (LCTI) which was put in place in 2000 as a response to the problem of caring for an increasing elderly population at a time when family sizes were falling in a country where children and grandchildren have traditionally played a pivotal role in caring for order relatives.

This may well be something worth exploring by this country, especially given the pathological failure of any government to get to grips with anything that requires planning beyond the current news cycle, let alone the next general election, of which care and pensions are the most obvious examples.

So, hurrah for the Japanese.

Or maybe not.

Today’s Guardian reports that Kanji Kato, the Minister of Health, says that women who have no children are a burden on the state, doomed to end up being paid for by the taxes of other people’s children. He is suspiciously silent on the subject of childless men.

When invited to speak at weddings, Mr Kato always urges the bride to have “at least three children”. Obviously a subscriber to the Embarrassing Uncle school of public speaking.

This is the same Mr Kato who is uncharacteristically silent about the forced sterilization of thousands of women, some as young as 15, between 1948 and 1996 under Japan’s eugenics laws and whose government systematically refuses to apologise and pay any compensation leaving such women, presumably, to be paid for by the taxes of  other people’s children.