Activities of Japan NGO Council on Ageing (JANCA) An Overview of JANCA’s history and Activities

<Background and History of JANCA>

In 1982, the United Nations (UN) held World Assembly on Ageing in Vienna and adopted Vienna International Plan of Action on Ageing in this meeting. The UN General Assembly also endorsed this plan. In 1990, the General Assembly also designated October 1 the International Day of Older Persons. In 1991, the General Assembly adopted the UN Principles for Older Persons (see Appendix 1), calling for “independence, participation, care, self-fulfillment and dignity of older people (5 principles),” to promote the Plan of Action.

In 1992, the General Assembly decided to observe the year 1999 as the International Year of Older Persons (IYOP) to further promote the International Plan of Action on Ageing and the UN Principles for Older Persons.

The IYOP 1999 sends a message that population aging is a multidimensional, multidisciplinary and multigenerational issue; hence, all the promotional activities related to this issue should be taken “toward a society for all ages.”

In 1997, the General Assembly adopted a resolution which called on each State to establish a national focal point (to coordinate PR and educational activities) as part of the efforts for the IYOP 1999.

It also notified each Sate that the activities related to the IYOP 1999 would start on October 1 (International Day of Older Persons), 1998.

However, each country responded to the UN’s call differently. As for Japan, in October 1998, the government decided to assign a role of the national focal point to Policy Office on the Aging of Society at Management and Coordination Agency, which was also responsible for the General Principles Concerning Measures for the Aging Society.

In response to the UN’s call, each country started the IYOP-related activities around 1997. NGOs were particularly active in these efforts, and Japan was no exception. Back then, many NGOs in the field of aged society were members of “Conference of Aging-Related Organizations (with about 30 member organizations),” which was organized by Foundation of Social Development for Senior Citizens under the jurisdiction of Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. However, Foundation of Social Development for Senior Citizens did not actively promote the efforts for the IYOP. Seeing this Year as a wonderful opportunity to promote their activities, major Japanese NGOs established a new organization “Japan NGO Conference on Aging (Kourei Shakai NGO Renraku Kyogikai = Korenkyo) (with about 20 member organizations)” on October 1, 1998, with expectations to collaborate with the focal point and to develop social activities among older people. Among its founders, Mr. Saburo Aihara (Japan Well-Aging Association) and Mr. Yukiyoshi Kunoki (Japan Association of Retired Industrial Persons) served as co-chairs. Its board members included: Mr. Yoshikazu Takano (Wonderful Aging Club), Mr. Tsutomu Hotta and Mr. Yoshikazu Wakui (Sawayaka Welfare Foundation), Mr. Yasuhiro Yokota (International Longevity Center), Shigeyoshi Yoshida (Japan Aging Research Center) and Mr. Kenichi Wakabayashi (The Dia Foundation for Research on Aging Societies).

 

<Korenkyo’s Activities during the International Year of Older Persons>

Korenkyo, established in October 1998, set up its rules. It also aimed to develop its “Charter for Older Persons” that would clearly state the organization’s goals and missions as well as to develop various activities based on the IYOP’s message as its mission for a time. In December of the same year, Korenkyo held a meeting, where a manager of the national focal point (Policy Office on the Aging of Society at Management and Coordination Agency) asked for cooperation of Korenkyo in promoting the activities for the IYOP. The participants also discussed the draft of the Charter for Older Persons at the meeting. This Charter, based on the UN Principles for Older Persons and with the key message “toward a society for all ages (the slogan of the IYOP),” was released on September 15 (Respect for the Aged Day), 1999, striving to promote social activities among older people and to build a society without age discrimination. (see Appendix 2).

In 1999, Korenkyo conducted various activities, including the following, as part of the IYOP in cooperation with the national focal point.

January: Board members of Korenkyo (Takano, Yokota, Yoshida, Wakabayashi and Wakui) presented an overview of older people in Japan to World Ship for Youth participants from Pacific Rim countries (an intergenerational exchange project). Korenkyo held symposia on an aged society in Tokyo and Osaka. It also took part in selection of the IYOP mascot (by board members such as Yokota and Yoshida) and its promotion.

March to November: It held roundtable meetings on social participation among older people in Tokyo, Nara, Ishikawa, Kagawa, Sendai and Kitakyushu.

June: It held “Seminar on the Aged Society.” Mr. Atsushi Shimokobe gave a keynote speech, and five breakout sessions (coordinated by 5 board members of Korenkyo) were held afterward.

August: It was involved in “IYOP Commemorative Essay Contest,” with board members of Korenkyo (e.g. Yokota) engaged in selecting and announcing the winners.

October: It held “National Assemblies to Consider a Lively Aged Society (commemorative events).”

October to November: It held “IYOP Commemorative Ceremony” in Tokyo and each regional block. Mr. Tsutomu Hotta gave a lecture.

December: It held “IYOP Commemorative Symposium: How Would We Develop the Aging Society?” at Yurakucho Marion Building in Tokyo. The symposium included a discussion by representatives of Japan (Mr. Tsutomu Hotta also representing Korenkyo), China, UK and Sweden.

These are some examples of activities which Korenkyo was actively involved in. The word “Korenkyo” also started appearing in modern dictionaries.

 

<Korenkyo’s Activities since 2000>

In 2000, after completing various activities for the IYOP, Korenkyo expanded its membership to 40, improved its rules, and changed its name to Kourei Shakai NGO Renraku Kyogikai (Japan NGO Council on Ageing = JANCA in English). Moreover, at the 2000 JANCA general assembly, Mr. Saburo Aihara resigned as a co-chair; Mr. Tsutomu Hotta (Sawayaka Welfare Foundation) took over this post with Mr. Yukiyoshi Kunoki. The general assembly also elected Shigeyoshi Yoshida (Japan Aging Research Center) as the executive director. The following people were also elected as board members: Mr. Yamato Kawai, Ms. Sachiko Kikuchi, Mr. Yukio Koshinaka, Ms. Nobuko Sawanobori, Mr. Noriomi Soya, Mr. Yoshikazu Takano, Mr. Takayoshi Tomita, Mr. Kuniji Higashitaki, Mr. Minao Miyazawa, Mr. Tsunekichi Morimoto (auditor), Mr. Yasuhiro Yokota, Mr. Kenichi Wakabayashi and Mr. Yoshikazu Wakui.

In FY 2000, JANCA organized Seminar on an Aged Society in collaboration with the national government (Policy Office on the Aging of Society). Its theme was “promotion of social participation among senior citizens.” This event has been held every year since then, while its name was changed to Aged Society Forum in 2008.

JANCA’s own activities include a research conference (in March) “To Discuss Ideal Social Security” in response to the so-called “robust policy reform” which aimed to transform social security systems from the perspective of economic efficiency. Over 300 people attended the conference (registration fee: 1,000 yen) and learned the issues which became the foundation of JANCA’s first recommendation titled “Recommendations on Social Security System Reforms.”

In August 2001, JANCA presented this recommendation (addressed to Prime Minister Koizumi) to the Prime Minister and Mr. Chikara Sakaguchi (Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare).

JANCA expanded its membership to over 50 organizations in 2001 mainly thanks to the two factors: (1) the UN proclaimed this year as the International Year of Volunteers (IYV), and (2) newly accredited NPOs emerged since the start of Japanese NPO law in 1998.

In this year, JANCA made particular efforts to promote the adult guardianship system which started with the long-term care insurance system. It organized a conference to learn about this system, including significance of the adult guardianship and activities to promote this system (especially those by senior citizens), under the leadership of such experts as Mr. Tsutomu Hotta (Co-chair, JANCA; lawyer), Ms. Fukiko Nakayama (lawyer) and Prof. Makoto Arai. With this conference as a starting point, JANCA began organizing “training programs for civic adult guardians” across the country a year after as part of its activities to promote the adult guardianship system. JANCA’s board members, such as Mr. Yamato Kawai and Mr. Yoshikazu Wakui, were in charge of this activity. In particular, Mr. Kawai (The Foundation for Senior Renaissance) served as a secretariat until 2010. JANCA held the training programs in all 47 prefectures, attracting 6,549 participants.

In April 2002, World Assembly on Ageing (WAA) was held in Madrid, Spain, for the first time in 20 years. JANCA registered for the Assembly a year before as a group, and over 20 people attended this meeting as JANCA group members, including commentators of two major Japanese newspapers (i.e. Asahi and Yomiuri), Mr. Tsutomu Hotta (Co-chair, JANCA) and Ms. Keiko Higuchi. During the Assembly, while the government representative was asked to explain various issues as the most aged country, JANCA group organized a meeting at NGO Hall on “Sharing experiences (in an aged society),” with Ms. Higuchi and Mr. Hotta backing the national initiatives.

In the 2002 JANCA general assembly (in May), Mr. Kunoki resigned as a co-chair, and JANCA asked Ms. Keiko Higuchi to take over this role with Mr. Tsutomu Hotta. Several people were also added to the existing board members, including: Ms. Ikuko Arai (The Women’s Association for a Better Aging Society), Ms. Noriko Sakata (TV Asahi Welfare Foundation), Mr. Tadashi Hishida (The Dia Foundation for Research on Aging Societies) and Mr. Tadaaki Masuda (WAC). Meanwhile, the following people resigned as board members: Ms. Sachiko Kikuchi, Ms. Nobuko Sawanobori, Mr. Noriomi Soya and Mr. Takayoshi Tomita. Mr. Tsunekichi Morimoto and Mr. Kenichi Wakabayashi were elected as auditors.

In 2003 and 2004, in addition to its annual Seminar on an Aged Society in collaboration with the national government, JANCA also cooperated with Cabinet Office in organizing Symposium for Global Partnership on Ageing as a national response to the WAA recommendations. This series of symposia was held in such cities as Tokyo, Shizuoka and Sendai. Meanwhile, JANCA also conducted an opinion survey on social participation among senior citizens with over 2,000 people. It prepared a report based on the survey results, summarizing older people’s opinions and activities regarding direct and indirect social participation. The report was presented to the national government (Policy Office on the Aging of Society) and made a contribution when the General Principles Concerning Measures for the Aging Society were revised in 2005.

Expo 2005 was held in Aichi, Japan, where JANCA organized various events for a week at Citizens’ Pavilion inside the Expo venue. In particular, the symposium “Creating Ikigai for Seniors in Asia” attracted a number of people. This symposium was co-sponsored with organizations in the field of aging in China, South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore. At the end of the symposium, the panel presented “Declaration on Creation of Seniors’ Ikigai” in Japanese, Chinese, Korean and English, and this declaration was widely introduced by mass media.

In 2006, JANCA also developed various environmental activities as part of its efforts which started at Aichi Expo a year before. For example, it conducted an opinion survey on environmental problems with 3,000 people. Based on its results, JANCA developed “Seniors’ Action Plans to Tackle Environmental Problems (Senior’s Go Green)” (headed by Ms. Keiko Higuchi) and presented it to the Minister of Environment in June (see Appendix 3).

As another environmental activity, JANCA held an international symposium “Senior’s Go Green” at Yurakucho Asahi Hall, Tokyo, in March 2008 (Sponsor: Global Industrial and Social Progress Research Institute; Supporters: TV Asahi and National Land Afforestation Promotion Organization). After introduction of a message from Prime Minister Fukuda on national efforts in environmental issues, the following sessions were held: “Dear Senior Citizens, Let’s Tackle Environmental Problems! Environmental Awareness” in the morning and “Senior Citizens’ Activities in an Aged Society” in the afternoon. During the symposium, Japanese and international experts as well as JANCA co-chairs discussed global warming, response to the Kyoto Protocol, and practical environmental activities especially for senior citizens. In March 2009, JANCA also held symposia on “Local Community and Environment” in Edogawa City (Tokyo) and Fukuoka City in collaboration with each municipality.

In June 2008, Prime Minister Fukuda hosted the G8 Summit “Toyako Summit.” Before the Summit was held, Ms. Higuchi (Co-chair, JANCA) visited Mr. Fukuda, presented “Proposals for Prime Minister Fukuda” and “Seniors’ Action Plans to Tackle Environmental Problems (Senior’s Go Green)” to him, and discussed issues JANCA had been working on, such as environmental issues and an aged society.

Another remarkable accomplishment was that JANCA co-hosted an international conference “Reinventing retirement” at the UN University (Tokyo) in March 2007, in response to the request by AARP (former American Association of Retired Persons, with 40 million members). This conference brought together leaders and experts in the field of aging across Asia: Japanese experts and business leaders included Mr. Atsushi Seike, Ms. Mariko Bando, Ms. Takako Sodei, Mr. Noriyuki Takayama and Mr. Takeo Ogawa; and the international experts and leaders included Mr. Pil-Joon Ann (Korean Senior Citizens Association), Mr. Xuejin Zuo (Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences) and Ms. Lengleng Tang (The National University of Singapore). The American and Japanese organizations worked together to make this 2-day event (a plenary session and 6 breakout sessions) successful. For example, CEO and over 20 executive officers of AARP attended this conference, Ms. Higuchi and Mr. Hotta (Co-chairs, JANCA) gave keynote speeches, and JANCA board members such as Mr. Masuda and Yoshida served as moderators. The conference received a number of messages from Japanese and global leaders, including Mr. Ki-moon Ban (Secretary General, the United Nations) and Japanese ministers. Japanese-English simultaneous interpretation was available at this conference.

In 2009, JANCA organized a research conference in the midst of social anxiety due to the collapse of economy led by financial institutions. At the conference, held in collaboration with the national focal point, participants prepared “JANCA’s Recommendations: Toward a Society with Rich Spirit,” arguing that Japanese society should strive to enrich spirit of all generations rather than becoming a big economic power, considering changes in demographic composition, social structure and environment in this aged society (see Appendix 4). This document has been presented to Prime Minister and media. It was also translated in English, along with Seniors’ Action Plans to Tackle Environmental Problems (Senior’s Go Green), and sent to international organizations, including the United Nations and AARP.

 

<JANCA’s Activities since 2010>

Japanese senior citizens have been becoming more diverse in terms of age since 2007, when the proportion of the elderly reached 21% and the country became a hyper-aged society. In response, JANCA also needs to reconsider how to promote direct and/or indirect social participation among senior citizens. While a growing number of JANCA board members are younger than baby-boomers, their age composition has changed little since the establishment of the organization.

The Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011, caused extensive damage through earthquakes, tsunami and nuclear plant accidents. A number of JANCA member organizations were engaged in relief activities for the disaster victims, some of which are still ongoing as of 2014. This report will not go into detail on activities related to this disaster since there are so many of them and they are still fresh in our minds.

In 2011, JANCA started expanding its network by welcoming various individual activists as “opinion members” in addition to the JANCA member organizations. The new JANCA rule also added “opinion members.” Moreover, the 2011 general assembly decided to publish the first book in JANCA’s history, putting together essays on “lives” of JANCA members who have reached the retirement age. The results were 2 editions of “Hi Fellas, Hang in There!” (2012 and 2013, published by Hakubunkan Shinsha and sold at 1,200 yen + tax). The second edition includes female authors.

In January 2012, JANCA presented recommendations on revision of the General Principles Concerning Measures for the Aged Society to Prime Minister Noda based on its previous recommendations. On the same day, the recommendations were also released during JANCA’s New Year party at Kensei-Kinenkan (Constitution Memorial Center). These recommendations are widely incorporated in the preamble of the revised General Principles Concerning Measures for the Aged Society (released in June 2012).

In 2012, shortly before the lower house election in the fall, JANCA also conducted a special opinion survey on national election with over 300 people and sent its results (e.g. ideal methods to elect officials, opinions on reducing the number of seats) to Prime Minister and media (e.g. newspapers and broadcasting companies) via fax and e-mail (newsletter).

Currently (in 2014), JANCA is serving as a co-organizer of “Generations United International Conference,” which will be held at Hawaii Convention Center from July 21 to 24, 2015. JANCA received a request for cooperation from Generations United and decided to work with them at the general assembly in May. JANCA has set up a committee for this initiative, consisting of its board members (chaired by Mr. Tadaaki Masuda), to (1) coordinate Japanese participants (e.g. selecting presenters, promoting the event, encouraging conference participation) and to (2) encourage participation from Asian region.

<By Shigeyoshi Yoshida (Executive Director, JANCA)>

 

(Appendix 1)

United Nations Principles for Older Persons

Adopted by General Assembly resolution 46/91 of 16 December 1991

 

The General Assembly ,

Appreciating the contribution that older persons make to their societies,

Recognizing that, in the Charter of the United Nations, the peoples of the United Nations declare, inter alia , their determination to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

Noting the elaboration of those rights in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other declarations to ensure the application of universal standards to particular groups,

In pursuance of the International Plan of Action on Ageing, adopted by the World Assembly on Ageing and endorsed by the General Assembly in its resolution 37/51 of 3 December 1982,

Appreciating the tremendous diversity in the situation of older persons, not only between countries but within countries and between individuals, which requires a variety of policy responses,

Aware that in all countries, individuals are reaching an advanced age in greater numbers and in better health than ever before,

Aware of the scientific research disproving many stereotypes about inevitable and irreversible declines with age,

Convinced that in a world characterized by an increasing number and proportion of older persons, opportunities must be provided for willing and capable older persons to participate in and contribute to the ongoing activities of society,

Mindful that the strains on family life in both developed and developing countries require support for those providing care to frail older persons,

Bearing in mind the standards already set by the International Plan of Action on Ageing and the conventions, recommendations and resolutions of the International Labour Organization, the World Health Organization and other United Nations entities,

Encourages Governments to incorporate the following principles into their national programmes whenever possible:

 

Independence

1. Older persons should have access to adequate food, water, shelter, clothing and health care through the provision of income, family and community support and self-help.

2. Older persons should have the opportunity to work or to have access to other income-generating opportunities.

3. Older persons should be able to participate in determining when and at what pace withdrawal from the labour force takes place.

4. Older persons should have access to appropriate educational and training programmes.

5. Older persons should be able to live in environments that are safe and adaptable to personal preferences and changing capacities.

6. Older persons should be able to reside at for as long as possible.

Participation

7. Older persons should remain integrated in society, participate actively in the formulation and implementation of policies that directly affect their well-being and share their knowledge and skills with younger generations.

8. Older persons should be able to seek and develop opportunities for service to the community and to serve as volunteers in positions appropriate to their interests and capabilities.

9. Older persons should be able to form movements or associations of older persons.

Care

10. Older persons should benefit from family and community care and protection in accordance with each society’s system of cultural values.

11. Older persons should have access to health care to help them to maintain or regain the optimum level of physical, mental and emotional well-being and to prevent or delay the onset of illness.

12. Older persons should have access to social and legal services to enhance their autonomy, protection and care.

13. Older persons should be able to utilize appropriate levels of institutional care providing protection, rehabilitation and social and mental stimulation in a humane and secure environment.

14. Older persons should be able to enjoy human rights and fundamental freedoms when residing in any shelter, care or treatment facility, including full respect for their dignity, beliefs, needs and privacy and for the right to make decisions about their care and the quality of their lives.

Self-fulfilment

15. Older persons should be able to pursue opportunities for the full development of their potential.

16. Older persons should have access to the educational, cultural, spiritual and recreational resources of society.

Dignity

17. Older persons should be able to live in dignity and security and be free of exploitation and physical or mental abuse.

18. Older persons should be treated fairly regardless of age, gender, racial or ethnic background, disability or other status, and be valued independently of their economic contribution.

 

 

(Appendix 2)

Charter for Older Persons by JANCA

Taking the United Nations’ 5 Principles (older persons’ independence, self-fulfillment, participation, care and dignity) as well as older persons’ roles into consideration, Japan NGO Council on Ageing (JANCA) strives to build “a peaceful society where all generations can pursue meaningful lives (i.e. lives with Ikigai)” and “a society without age discrimination.” As shown below, JANCA proposes basic principles of this movement as “Charter for Older Persons.”

 

1.Dignity: Individual dignity of older persons shall be as much respected as that of other generations.
2. Social Participation: In order to create a society where people of all generations can live in peace, it is essential that older persons enjoy active lives. For this purpose, it is recommended that opportunities be expanded so that older persons can participate in a society with the motivation, including society-wide development of projects and jobs that can utilize older persons’ abilities.

3.Social Contribution: In order to create a comfortable society for all generations, older persons shall utilize their experiences and actively participate in activities that benefit a society, including social welfare, environmental improvement, community development, teaching culture and international exchange, while communicating with younger generations.
 
4.Health Maintenance: Older persons shall work to maintain their own physical function so that they can fulfill their lives in a local community. To this end, it is recommended that local systems and environment be developed, including health centers and health promotion networks.
 
5.Community Development: In order to create a society where people can live in peace regardless of their physical and social abilities, it is recommended that building houses and communities without barrier become an important theme in public works. Moreover, all people shall work to remove their psychological barriers and help each other in a community.
 
6.Social Security Systems: Social security systems, such as pension, health care and long-term care, need to be established as systems that are committed to citizens’ lives and hence ensure a society where all generations can live in peace. These systems must be built in a comprehensive manner based on the spirit of mutual assistance, while working to ensure fair burden and efficient operation and not to lose vitality of society as a whole. The service recipients under these systems must bear a portion of the expenses to the extent possible and appropriate, while their right to self-determination must be respected as much as possible.
 
7.Lifelong Learning: It is recommended that lifelong learning systems be developed in order to support older persons’ diverse livings. Moreover, systems must be developed so that older persons’ experiences and wisdom can be utilized for education of children and youth.

Older persons as well as men and women of all generations shall work together to accomplish these goals recommended above.

 September 15th, 1999

(Appendix 3)

Action Plans by Older Persons for Environmental Problems

―4 resolutions and 3 collaborations― (2006)

June 30, 2006

 Japan NGO Council on Ageing(JANCA)

We, Japan NGO Council on Ageing (JANCA), conducted the first national study with seniors (those aged 50 and over) on environmental problems in this country. Based on the study results, we, as a whole group of JANCA, declare that each senior will consider him/herself as “Environmental keeper” and take action on the following.

 

4 resolutions

1.Each senior should be consciously and actively involved in environmental issues. Seniors survived the drastically changing time and have a wide range of life experiences. They also have a lot of life cultures that should be passed on to the next generation (e.g., “Mottainai” spirit). Seniors should be aware that they are the ones who should take the initiative in tackling environmental problems, starting with not wasting materials in daily lives. They also should take action on environmental protection, such as “Team -6%” which is proposed by the nation.

2. Awareness and behaviors regarding environmental issues should be spread from individual and family levels to local as well as global community levels. In particular, seniors, who have been highly involved in the mass consumption society for a long time, have responsibilities to give the safe and sustainable environment to the next generation. Hence, they should be the active promoters of environmental protection in order to assure the safety and happiness for all the generations.

3.Seniors who are involved in environmental activities should work together, sharing information on environmental issues and challenges as well as promoting people’s awareness and behaviors. In local communities, seniors should be actively involved in environmental activities as part of their Ikigai (meaning of life).

4.As the country with a great economic power and very little natural resource, we are starting to reconsider the culture of wasting which has been in practice for the last few decades. Now is the time to take lessons from the past and to establish the life culture of conserving energy resources. Seniors should take the initiative in this effort and pass this culture to the future.

 

3 collaborations

1.The national and local governments need to reconsider the various policies from the environmental perspectives, with the awareness that environmental protection is the first priority in the 21st century. In particular, local municipalities should be accountable for the environmental policies in daily lives (e.g., garbage disposal), with collaboration with citizens. Manufacturers should also share the responsibility in disposing materials that are difficult to dispose.
2.When developing business, companies should prioritize the technology that can contribute to environmental protection and manufacture environment-friendly products. They also should be aware of their social responsibilities in
protecting environment. Moreover, they should not forget the fact that consumers and citizens are paying attention to the companies which are not concerned about environmental problems.
3.Media should make efforts so that citizens keep their interests in environmental protection. The goal is that environmental protection becomes a part of the culture in our country.

 

 

(Appendix 4)

August 11, 2009

 

Japan NGO Council on Ageing (JANCA)

Co-chairperson Keiko Higuchi

Co-chairperson Tsutomu Hotta

 

 

Japan NGO Council on Ageing (JANCA) is an association of over 60 organizations which work for a better aged society and older persons’ social participation in particular.

JANCA agrees with the national “Large-Boned Policy” presented in 2001 in terms of the needs for reform. Yet, we were shocked to see “Chapter 3: Social Security Reform” which prioritized market economy without any social vision or fundamental principles on welfare and health care. In response, we submitted recommendations on an ideal social security system to Prime Minister. These recommendations are based on the projected social structure in our nation with an aim to create a society where every generation can live comfortably. However, the national policy had not reflected such recommendations, and we now see so many problems in welfare and health care. In particular, since the economic meltdown in the fall of 2008, we have been feeling the problems of our nation’s social welfare even harder.

In order to overcome this situation, we insist, again with understanding on changing social structures in the nation, that Japanese society should aim for “society-oriented nation where every generation can live with rich spirit” rather than a big economic power.

 

JANCA’ Recommendations: Toward a Society with Rich Spirit

 

Introduction

With recognition of our nation’s social structure and based on a nationwide survey with active senior citizens (i.e., “JANCA Opinion Survey”), JANCA proposes the following, with hopes for more active societal roles among older persons, in order to create a society where every generation can live with rich spirit.

 

1. Basic Understanding on Our Society

1) Social Structure (Population Structure) in Japan

(i) Japanese population has already started declining. Even if the measures to increase birth rates is effective, population aging will continue until the mid-21st century.

(ii) A life expectancy of Japanese people has been highest in the world since the 1970s. Currently it is 79 years for males and 86 years for females. A survival rate at age 90 is 20% for males and 45% for females. Thus, Japan has become a longevity society where the majority of people can enjoy the gift of long life.

(iii) The United Nation and experts around the world has a positive view on population aging as development of human society, for it is a result of “longer life expectancies” and “childbearing choice” which we have long wished for. Nonetheless, they also keep warning on measures to deal with social changes along with population aging.

(iv) The aged countries in Europe have been working hard to increase birth rates so that they can stabilize the population structure. Their goal is to establish the longevity society while keeping vitality of the nations, maintaining inter-generational equity in social systems and creating a sustainable society. If our country follows their paths with measures to increase births and international migration, it is possible to realize the longevity society with stabilized population structure by the late 21st century.

 

2) Senior Citizens

As long-term care insurance data and Patient Survey show, people aged 80 and over tend to require long-term care and health care. However, over 80% of people aged 60s and 70s are quite healthy.

Recognizing that the longevity is the fruit of our ancestors’ hard work, we, the senior generation who enjoys longevity at present time, have responsibilities to make this longevity society even better and to pass it to the future generations. The longevity society is unprecedented and unknown. Yet, we are certain that it is a society where senior citizens play important roles as a creators and providers of social systems, goods and services because they are the big part of both supply and demand sides in social economy. Hence, it is essential for the nation to have a law that prohibits age discrimination.

 

<Economic Condition and Older Persons in Japan: Results of JANCA Opinion Survey>

Our national economy has developed primarily through promoting domestic demands under the peaceful social conditions. If population keeps aging at the global level and new demands and industries are created in response, we, the most aged society, seem to be in a good position for the following reasons. (1) Most of older persons are healthy and independent. They also put importance on social activities, including work, for their health and Ikigai (i.e., meaning of life). (2) Older persons have skills and experiences in production and product development. They are willing to keep utilizing such resources after retirement. (3) Older persons have experienced mass-production, mass-consumption, mass-disposal and environmental pollution in the process of national growth. Since retirement, a growing number of older persons are involved in energy conservation and the 3R initiative (i.e., reduce, reuse and recycle). (4) While older persons have a spirit of “Mottainai” and waste little, they also have interests and energy to improve quality of life (e.g., health promotion and cultural activities). (5) Currently, older persons have over 60% of savings and assets in the nation. We are starting to see several groups which invest on industries and enterprises in the country for their own interests. (6) A number of older persons with savings report that they would not save so much if their lives at the last stage were secured like Scandinavian countries.

 

2. Society We Aim for

We aim for a society where every generation, including older persons, can live with Ikigai (i.e., meaning of life) and rich spirit.

 

3. Ideal Social Security System

As a society advances, social security systems are established to create a society where people can help each other and live comfortably. Those systems are the bases for realization of a society we aim for.

 

1) Basic Principles of Social Security Systems

(i) In order to create a society where everyone can live with dignity and independently while helping each other, the systems should be based on self-help. Systems based on mutual support then should help independence of people, and public support should cover what is left.

(ii) The systems should be based on everyone’s rights and responsibilities as well as benefits and costs. Hence, they should be fair, clear, easy to understand and easy for citizens to participate in.

 

2) Public Pension System

(i) All the public pension programs should be unified so that every citizen can equally understand the relationships among self-help, mutual support and public support as well as the balance between payments and benefits. This measure is also important in order for people to understand the necessity and importance of the public pension system.

(ii) If we keep the current system, we cannot avoid increasing public spending due to changing population structure. While the earmarked sales tax may be necessary to secure the funding, inheritance taxes should first be spent on this purpose as a public funding source for people of the same generation.

(iii) It is important to publicize the new system and to conduct opinion surveys before implementing the system.

 

3) Health and Long-Term Care Insurance Systems

(i) Health and long-term care insurance systems are based on mutual support among all the people. At the same time, our nation is the most aged society in the world and is in a better position in developing advanced technology and know-how in health and long-term care in order to deal with the global challenge of population aging. Hence, developing human resources, technology and skills in health and long-term care is critical for the development of our nation.

(ii) Japanese health and long-term care systems are highly regarded by the international community. The information on such systems should be disseminated regularly in a way people can understand more easily. Also, before necessary reforms are made in these systems due to changing population structure, explanation beforehand and opinion surveys are essential. As for the health insurance for the old-old (75+), the applicable age group should be reconsidered. According to the United Nations and in many other countries, the definition of the old-old is 80+.

(iii) The current public health systems are fragmented (e.g., maternal and child health, school health). In order for every citizen to manage his/her own health throughout the life, the public health systems should be integrated. For example, “Citizen’s Health Note (or Card)” can be issued to citizens so they can keep records on their health histories since birth as well as immunity and antibody.

l  Addendum: When announcing “Average Life Expectancies” which are the major indicators of a longevity society, additional information should be given on “Average Terminal Period the Year Before,” which would be helpful in ensuring secure old age.

 

4. Other Measures Along with Social Security Systems

Considering the rapidly growing number of older persons; particularly those who like to remain independent, those living alone and households that consist only of older persons; the following measures are essential in order for social security systems to properly function as a safety net.

 

1) Enhancing Work Environment for Independence and Self Fulfillment

(i) In order to build the social system (social environment) in which people can work regardless of sex and age, relevant measures that protect rights of working people (e.g., flexible work arrangements for those who provide care for children and/or older family members, postponing retirement ages and rehiring older persons) should be further enhanced.

(ii) Measures to build social environment that enables retirees and those who left a job for child care to start businesses should be promoted.

(iii) In order to create a society that promotes social contribution, there should be tax exemptions for donations for voluntary programs (e.g., NPO and NGO activities) to the level of other Western countries. Also, it is essential to build systems (e.g., laws and programs) that enable both governments and provide businesses to provide sufficient salaries and stipends for staff members and volunteers.

 

2) Developing Living Environment in a Local Community

(i) A local community is a base for people’s living. It is where we are born, grow up, have a family, help each other and spend the life time. In other words, various issues (e.g., child care, education and elder care) are relevant to a local community environment. Hence, community residents should be actively involved in electing their representatives (e.g., assembly members and mayors) and cooperate with each other to develop necessary measures.

(ii) Institutions that provide community services (e.g., health management, child care, long-term care and emergency services) should be developed as a web of safety net in a local community. The staff members in those places should collaborate with local residents, groups of seniors in particular, in organizing and implementing programs.

 

3) Building Housing and Community Environment

(i) Paying attention to various housing needs of young and older generations, governments and private industries, which have promoted home-ownership for a long time, should collaborate with each other to develop a market that enables people to switch residents more easily.

(ii) Governments and residents should work together to build safe environment (e.g., improving pavements and developing traffic rules).

(iii) Places such as parks, plazas, playgrounds and various facilities are valuable community resources as places to gather and for emergency purposes. Hence, development of these places is essential. Senior citizens in the community should be utilized in running those places.

(iv) A number of older persons have assets (e.g., land and house) but have little income. In order for them to remain independent, governments and private industries should collaborate with each other to promote a reverse mortgage system, in which people can use their assets for living expenses, as a way to assure older persons’ autonomy as consumers of services.

 

4) Vitalizing Industries and Enterprises That Benefit the Longevity Society

(i) Health and long-term care businesses and activities should be able to develop in a healthy manner not only for development of the industries but also for promoting people’s health and Ikigai (i.e., meaning of life).

(ii) There is a need for social environment that vitalizes product development by senior citizens who are the pioneers of the longevity society.

(iii) Investment on corporations is one of the many ways for older persons to economically participate in a society. In order to promote CSR studies and SRI activities, which may also contribute to development of corporations and industries, governments and private industries should work together to promote information disclosure on corporate activities.

 

   It is our hope that people of all generations, our nation’s opinion leaders in particular, support the above recommendations and implement these measures.