“Study on social participation among seniors” Overview
Japan NGO Council on Aging (JANCA) was established in October 1998 by Japanese NGOs and NPOs which agree with United Nations Principles for Older Persons (“Independence”, “Self-fulfillment”, “Participation”, “Care”, and “Dignity”) and the theme of International Year of Older Persons 1999 (Towards a society for all ages). JANCA’s missions include promoting measures for an aged society through self-awareness and social participation of older people.
As of 2004, JANCA consists of over 50 organizations, led by Tsutomu Hotta and Keiko Higuchi.
JANCA’s activities include making recommendations for the society (e.g., development of “Charter for Older Persons (1999)” and “Recommendations on social security system reforms (2001)”) and conducting educational and PR activities (e.g., co-sponsoring “Seminar on an Aging Society” and “Symposium for Global Partnership on Ageing” with Cabinet Office and cooperating with Japan Organization for Employment of the Elderly and Persons with Disabilities (JEED) on “Older Workers Employment Festa”).
These activities and recommendations are based on results of “JANCA opinion members” surveys. There are more than 1,500 opinion members who belong to JANCA organizations or who are involved in JANCA activities.
This time we would like to report on the study results regarding social activities among “seniors (middle-aged and old people).” This topic is quite important considering that one in every 4 people is aged 60 and over in Japan and that their social participation is essential for this country.
About the Study
There are more than 30 million people who are aged 60 and over in Japan, about 5 million of whom are old-old and/or needing care and additional 10 million work (full-time and part-time). We know little about social conditions of the remaining 15 million people.
Most of the people who belong to JANCA member organizations or who are involved in JANCA activities in other ways are considered part of these 15 million people. They have desire to participate in the society for self fulfillment. Yet, most of the organizations which could utilize them face serious financial difficulties. Some seniors start their own NPOs to create opportunities for social activities, but it is not easy to run these organizations. Similar reports are heard in many meetings on social participation among seniors. In the meantime, more people are aware of the growing number of seniors who are interested in social activities.
In order to understand the gap between the increasing needs for social participation among seniors and the reality which is not meeting their needs easily, .this study asked opinions of JANCA members.
The interesting finding of this study is that over 60% of the respondents are paid either nothing at all or only for commuting expenses. This reality may partly explain that more than half of the respondents (JANCA Opinion Members) are different from the last study’s respondents.
In Western countries such as U.K. and the U.S.A., it is almost a rule to secure a fair value for volunteer activities. Laws are established to provide volunteer opportunities for seniors. Japan lags behind other countries in terms of development of a voluntary sector (NGOs and NPOs), but the country urgently needs to develop social environment which can promote NGO and NPO activities in response to the growing number of seniors who have become aware of social activities. Compared with the previous study which was conducted 3 years ago, this study shows a higher proportion (about 50%) of the respondents who are involved in activities which support seniors’ social activities. This result gives us some hope. (Shigeyoshi Yoshida, Study Committee Chair)