Japan NGO Council on Ageing (JANCA) sponsored
International NGO Forum in EXPO 2005
Japan NGO Council on Ageing (JANCA) sponsored 2 events at EXPO 2005 Seto Area Civic Pavilion: “Respect-for-the-Aged Day International Forum” on September 19th and “Panel Discussion” on September 20th. Using visual aids, senior leaders from Asia made presentations and discussions on aged societies and conditions of seniors.
September 19th (Respect-for-the-aged Day) 1:30p.m. – 3:00p.m.
“Creating Ikigai for Seniors in Asia”
Host: Tsutomu Hotta, JANCA chairman
Presenters: Hiroaki Sakamoto, Tokyo Edogawa Sougou Jinsei Daigaku secretary of general
Pil-Joon Ann, president, The Korean Senior Citizens Association
Ai-Guang Xu, Executive Vice President of Zhejiang Ma-Yinchu Population Welfare Foundation
Chon-Ha Wei, Director of Shanghai Retirees Activity Center
Adviser: Li-Zhang Ma, Professor of Shanghai University
Hye-Weon Kim, Associate Professor of Yamaguchi Prefectural University
Coordinator: Shigeyoshi Yoshida, JANCA executive director
Mr. Yoshida introduced the aim of this forum, its program, and the presenters. Mr. Hotta was a host and greeted the forum participants.
(Mr. Hotta) Thank you for joining us in this hot weather. Today we have wonderful guests from Asia, including our precious neighbors from South Korea and China. They will talk about how seniors in each country are fulfilling their lives. Fortunately this pavilion is nice and cool, so I hope you enjoy the forum.
Now I would like Mr. Sakamoto to talk about the situations in Japan.
(Mr. Hiroaki Sakamoto) Edogawa ward has 660,000 residents, and its average age is the lowest in the 23 wards in Tokyo. I would like to talk about social activities of seniors there.
First, we have “Edogawa Sougou Jinsei Daigaku (meaning Edogawa Comprehensive Life College)” to raise awareness of the community among residents. Its president is Masaru Kitano, and it is a 2-year program for the residents to train volunteers. Most of the students are male retirees and females who finished child rearing. Classes mainly consist of workshops and field work rather than lectures. I hope that the alumni of this college will be actively involved in such fields as international exchanges, child care, and long-term care.
We also have “Suku Suku Schools (“Suku Suku” describes the healthy child development),” in which the community as a whole supports comprehensive human education for children as a second school. This program is like a connecting point between families and schools to develop social skills of children. Seniors and local shop owners participate in the program as volunteers.
Suku Suku Schools operate at all the 73 schools in the ward, and they collaborate with Schoolboys Clubs. Currently 25,500 children are registered in the program. The details of the programs vary by district; some have traditional Japanese games, and others have tutoring programs. Regardless of these differences, Suku Suku Schools play important roles in bringing the community and schools together, creating safer environments, and energizing the local community.
Next, I would like to talk about health and Ikigai (meanings of lives) among healthy seniors. About 90% of older residents in Edogawa wards are healthy and independent. Silver Human Resource Center in Edogawa ward was founded in 1975 as the first Corporation for the Aged in the nation. Currently there are 4,000 members, and the annual turnover reaches \1.2 billion. The jobs at the Center include recycling bicycles, repairing door screens (Fusuma), housekeeping, clerical work at offices, and cleaning parks. Seniors in this program can obtain both Ikigai and income through these activities. Another program is “Jukunen Culture School (meaning Culture Schools for Mature Adults),” which was founded in 1977. Currently 10,000 people take 33 classes for free. We also have “Rhythm Exercise” for 25 years, and 50 trainers provide weekly lessons for 10,000 people at 240 sites. As a result of these Ikigai and health promotion activities, Edogawa ward has the lowest medical expenditure and the lowest usage rate of long-term care insurance in the 23 wards.
In addition to Suku Suku School, Edogawa ward sponsors an annual athletic festival for intergenerational exchanges, in which 8,000 people from 3 generations participate. Also, the first intergenerational facility (combining homes for the aged and a nursery) in the nation has been operating for 20 years in Edogawa ward.
(Mr. Hotta) Thank you very much. Edogawa ward has innovative model projects in creating places for children.
(Mr. Hotta) How about the activities in the audience’s communities? It seems like we have a long way to go, but let’s work together to make better communities. Dr. Ma from China and Dr. Kim from South Korea, how about your countries?
(Dr. Li-Zhong Ma) In Shanghai, we have a lot of places for intergenerational activities. For example, seniors teach children at parks, and empty nurseries are used as day care centers for older people. I think it is necessary and very beneficial for children and older people to communicate with each other.
(Dr. Hye-Weon Kim) South Korea has also started some programs. For example, seniors provide manner classes for children.
(Mr. Hotta) Now I would like to turn to Dr. Ann.
(Dr. Pil-Joon Ann) South Korea is 30-year behind Japan in terms of becoming an aging society (i.e., older people comprise 7+% of the total population). However, it will take fewer years (5 years) than Japan to become an aged society (i.e., older people comprise 14+% of the total population). In other words, South Korea will become an aged society in 2019. The country is facing 2 big challenges. The first challenge is declining births. The total fertility rate (TFR) is as low as 1.16, so we have to do something about that. The other challenge is the growing number of seniors. We are currently working on this issue, including the long-term care insurance which is supposed to start in 2008.
Today I would like to talk about KyongNoDang, where lots of seniors spend time with fellows on a daily basis. The urbanization started around 1970 in the country, but many seniors refused to move to apartments. In 1981, President Chun ordered to make NoInJung in each local municipality. In 1991, every district and apartment was required to have NoInJung. Its name was also changed to KyongNoDang. It plays a role as a senior center, providing health promotion, education, recreation, and volunteer programs.
There are 53,000 KyongNoDang nationwide, and each of them is required to have 20 or more registered seniors with a space between 59.4 and 660㎡. The average number of participants range from 18 to 30. The operational costs and utilities are paid by public support.
About 50% of seniors nationwide use KyongNoDang, among them about a half go there 6 times a week. Those aged 75 and over comprise 42% of the participants. About 60% of the participants report they are satisfied with the program, and the biggest reason for their satisfaction is being able to spend time with fellow seniors.
The buildings of KyongNoDang vary. Some are reformed from recreational facilities, and others are newly built. The daily activities include health consultation, exercise, “gate ball”, meals program, “Shogi (board game),” “Go (board game)” and “Hanafuda (card game).” There are also volunteer activities, including traffic control, historic tour guide, environmental protection, and child education. Seniors also teach children something schools usually do not teach, such as Chinese characters and manners, as intergenerational activities. Moreover, they can earn incomes through cultivating fields, growing vegetables and making fans and kitchen appliances.
Social welfare for older people in South Korea is behind Japan, but senior discounts are available for airfare, train, and ships. Seniors can also use subways for free.
(Mr. Hotta) Thank you very much. Dr. Ann is a former minister of health and welfare, and he has been a great contributor to welfare of the aged. When I visited South Korea in June, I had a chance to see a wonderful KyongNoDang and energetic seniors, especially females. It seems like females are very active in most countries.