Sunday, July 5, 1998 Published at 06:05 GMT 07:05 UK
Computer grannies log on in Japan
Japan has a growing army of millions of pensioners
The Computer Grannies Club in Tokyo is one of many which has cropped up. It was founded by Kayoko Okawa, who has also turned her home into a computer drop-in centre.
'Club is a great success'
She says the club was a boon to members: "Coming to the computer class cheers everyone up. They start dressing more fashionably and become much more lively. It's a great success."
Traditionally, elderly Japanese have passed their retirement in peace, playing crocquet and looking after their grandchildren.
Japan is one of the most rapidly ageing societies in the world. Because of the falling birth rate, Japan will soon have more old-age pensioners than any other country.
"If there are not many immigrants and Japan has one of the lowest birth rates in the world, Japan has a problem."
New computer skills
The computer grannies are keen not to become a burden. Many are seeking out new computer skills so as to stay in contact with the cyber age.
"They are a good way of getting information," says one 81-year-old woman.
Another 86-year-old says: "My grandchildren have a computer but they won't teach me how to use it."
A third pensioner says she is learning for the future so that when she loses the use of her legs she will be able to e-mail her friends and relatives and will not become isolated.
As the millennium comes round the corner, Japan's elderly are keen to prevent themselves becoming similarly obsolete.