Results of JANCA Survey on Social Participation among Older People (A national survey by JANCA member organizations)

March 26, 2015
Keiko Higuchi and Tsutomu Hotta
Co-Chairs, Japan NGO Council on Ageing (JANCA)

Results of JANCA Survey on Social Participation among Older People
(A national survey by JANCA member organizations)

In Japan, baby boomers are now aged 65+. As one in every four people is considered the elderly, social participation among older people is essential in this country.
Japan NGO Council on Ageing (JANCA), an association of NGOs and NPOs in the field of aging, has been developing activities to promote social participation among older people since its establishment in 1999, the International Year of Older Persons, aiming to “build a society for all ages.” In 2015, JANCA once again conducted a survey on social participation among older people. The following is a summary of its results.
JANCA will work with relevant organizations and individuals nationwide to further promote social participation among older people based on these results.
Lastly, we would like to express our deepest gratitude to those who helped us in this survey and those who support JANCA’s activities. We will appreciate your continued support.

The following summarizes the highlights of the results.
 Regarding the main theme of the survey “social participation among older people,” almost all of the respondents (97.9%) say it is “necessary,” a significant increase from 10 years ago (60-70%). Moreover, 74.1% think “Workshops should be organized in each municipality for people before they reach the age to receive public pension benefits.” Furthermore, 88.8% are strongly interested in a “community-based mutual support system (comprehensive community care system),” which they may take part in.
 Regarding living conditions, the results show sad reality: many have fallen from the middle class, and our society is experiencing the greater disparity. The results show the surprisingly high level of interest and knowledge among older people on various issues, including opinions on the increasing consumption tax for a comprehensive reform of social security and its postponement, as well as the needs for reverse mortgage (63.7%) to stay financially independent.
 Regarding politics, respondents pay attention to the medium-sized constituency system (54.8%) and congressional compensation (77.3%). Over half of the respondents are concerned about security and the growing national trend to revise the Constitution (56.0% say the society should change this direction). Regarding the Emperor’s New Year Thoughts this year that commemorated the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, 200 people sent messages.

 

2015 JANCA National Survey on Social Participation among Older People

■ Subjects: JANCA members and other stakeholders (e.g. retirees)
■ Method: The questionnaire was distributed via e-mail. The respondents returned the form via e-mail or fax.
■ Period: February 20 to March 6, 2015
■ Contents
Social participation among older people
Needs for social participation among older people
Contents of social participation
Whether workshops should be organized in each municipality for people before they reach the age to receive public pension benefits in order to promote social participation among older people
Development of a “comprehensive community care” system
Living and social conditions
Abenomics and living conditions
Are pensions and savings enough in old age?
Promotion of reverse mortgage
Declining “middle-class” identification
Postponement of the consumption tax increase
“My Number” system
Politics and election
Constituency system
Congressional compensation
Growing trend to revise Article 9 of the Constitution

■ Results: Demographic Characteristics

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■ Results: Social Participation among Older People

Q. Do you think social participation is necessary for older people (after retirement)?
Most of the respondents (97.9%) strongly agree (68.3%) or agree (29.6%) that it is “necessary.”

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Q. What kind of social participation are you interested in?
The most frequent response is “unpaid volunteer (53.3%).” While 43.2% of the respondents are interested in “paid job,” most of those who choose this are younger than 65. “Unpaid volunteer” is more popular among people aged 70+.
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Q. Some people argue that workshops should be organized in each municipality for people before they reach the age to receive public pension benefits to promote (raise awareness of) social participation among older people. What do you think?
The majority of the respondents (74.1%) agree while only 5.4% disagree.
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Q. What do you think of a “comprehensive community care” system in which people jointly support those who need care in a community?
While this question was asked for the first time, many respondents (89%) are aware of this system.
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■ Results: Living and Social Conditions

Q. How has your life changed (or will it change) since the economic policy (Abenomics) started?
One third of the respondents say it “has gotten (will get) worse,” suggesting that pensioners are left behind. Those who choose the answer “has not changed (will not change)” include people who think they have no choice.
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Q. Are pensions and savings enough for you to survive in old age?
Similar to the previous question, those who choose the answer “yes” (50.3%) include people who think they have no choice but to handle the situation (especially those aged 75+). Compared with 6 years ago, the respondents seem to be less satisfied with their “pension, income and savings.”
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Q. Do you think it is necessary to implement reverse mortgage* nationwide?
(*Reverse mortgage: a system which allows older homeowners, who have a house and land but limited income (e.g. pension), to cover part of their cost of living. The system also allows younger people to move to another house.)
The majority of the respondents know about reverse mortgage. Only 6% of the respondents say it is not necessary: They are probably farmers, fishermen or self-employed.
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Q. In Japanese society, the majority of people used to be considered “middle class.” Yet, it is recently said that the country is facing the growing inequality. What do you think?
Over 70% of the respondents (71.7%) say they are sad about this situation.
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Q. Consumption tax has been increased as part of a comprehensive reform of social security and tax. What do you think of postponement of the tax increase?
Regarding the postponement, 50% of the respondents say there is no choice, while 30% say it should have been implemented as planned. Quite a lot of people seem to think that the tax increase is a plan that aims to restore the entire Japanese society. Many older people also seem to think that the plan should not be postponed for political reasons.
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Q. What do you think of “My Number” system, which starts in the fall of 2015?
Over 30% of the respondents say they do not know, suggesting the needs for more PR.
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■ Results: Politics and Election

Q. Some people argue that the current single-member constituency system should be revised back to the medium-sized constituency system. What do you think?
The majority of older people seem to prefer the medium-sized constituency system. They may have seen negative effects of the single-member constituency system for the last 25 years.
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Q. Some people argue that salaries and compensation for national and local assembly members should be revised to make them similar to the ones in OECD countries (e.g. UK, France, Sweden, etc.). What do you think?
Over three-quarters of the respondents (77.3%) think “assembly members in Japan should learn from other countries.”
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Q. The society seems to be moving in the direction to revise Article 9 of the constitution. What do you think of this trend?
The current administration should recognize that over half of the respondents (56%) would like to keep Article 9, 2.5 times as many as those who think this trend is fine.
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Respondents of JANCA Survey: Descriptive Statistics (Summary)

JANCA promotes various activities based on surveys of members who belong to JANCA member organizations (i.e. JANCA opinion surveys).
Respondents of JANCA surveys are mainly retired senior citizens who belong to and/or are associated with JANCA member organizations.
In each survey, the research team summarizes basic information of the respondents, including their demographic characteristics, health status, social participation and living conditions. The following summarizes characteristics (arithmetical averages) of respondents in all the JANCA surveys conducted so far, including their living arrangements, health, social participation and living conditions.
For more details on each survey conducted since 2002, please see JANCA website or contact JANCA (e-mail: jimukyoku@janca.gr.jp).

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