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Faced with the world's oldest population, Japan's notoriously risk-averse banks face a turning point. By 2030, over 10% of the nation's personal financial assets will be in the hands of people with dementia. (Photo by Ken Kobayashi)
The Big Story

Aging Japan: Banks turn to technology to tackle looming demographic crisis

Elderly -- and vulnerable -- Japanese hold half the country's $17 trillion in financial assets

MITSURU OBE, Nikkei staff writer | Japan

TOKYO/KYOTO -- Among Tsuyoshi Yoshiwara's clients is an 87-year-old widow who owns a mountain and a forest in a rural area just outside Tokyo. Vulnerable, and with valuable assets, she has been the target of several scams. A sales agent from a construction company convinced her to build a block of apartments on her land, persuading her to "sign" the contracts with a thumbprint. A local credit cooperative sold her a $50,000 life insurance policy she didn't need.

Yoshiwara, the former president of Jonan Shinkin Bank in Tokyo, runs a service that provides guardianship services for elderly people. Together with his lawyers, he had both of the widow's transactions canceled.

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