Aging in Japan and Across Asia

Japan is on the brink of becoming the most super-aged society in history, and many other Asian nations are not far behind. In 2015 the Sasakawa Peace Foundation launched the Issues and Implications of Aging Asian Population Project to address the problem of aging in Asia. In this series we will introduce some of the challenges that Japan and other countries in the region face as their societies age, along with their efforts to solve the issues.

Filipino Hospitality and Respect for the AgedKashiwagi Shiho

In the Philippines, like other Southeast Asian countries, caring for older people falls mostly to family members, but private organizations step in to help older people who live alone or are in difficult financial situations. This warm and human response to genuine need also reflects the Filipino tradition of respect for one’s elders.

The Wolgye Social Welfare Center’s “Beautiful Neighbors” ProgramKim Sung-won

In South Korea, the late 1980s saw the beginning of a trend toward supporting the social welfare of communities by establishing local centers for that purpose. The Wolgye Social Welfare Center in Nowon, Seoul, is one such facility. The success of its “Beautiful Neighbors” program, in which people contribute to social welfare by donating goods and services that local residents need, has made it a model for similar programs around the country.

A Place for Older Koreans: Memories PlusKim Sung-won

Jongno, Seoul, is home to a rich array of support services for the senior citizens who gather there. One such establishment is Memories Plus, which, with support from the private sector, offers patrons inexpensive refreshments and a place to relax. The success Memories Plus has found encouraging interaction between its patrons and creating employment for older residents is attracting attention.

As Regions Age, Shopping Centers Strive to AdaptKawamura Keitarō

“Shuttered shopping districts” are on the rise across Japan as aged storekeepers with no successors are forced to close down instead. The city of Shūnan in Yamaguchi Prefecture has managed to rebuild its community and revitalize its shopping district by supporting new stores opened by returnees and new arrivals to the city.

Fomenting Filial Piety amid Changing Lifestyles in ChinaWan Yi

Gathering to celebrate the Spring Festival (lunar new year) and other celebrations as a family is a longstanding Chinese tradition, but an increasing number of people in major cities do not go home for the holidays at all. The Chinese Law on Protection of the Rights and Interest of the Elderly aims to halt this trend and promote filial piety by making regular visits to parents a legal obligation, but will this strategy succeed?

Filial Piety Obligatory in a Dramatically Aging Chinese SocietyWan Yi

The duty of grown children to “support and assist their parents” is written into the Chinese Constitution. The idea has deep roots in Chinese culture; in fact, an ancient saying holds that filial piety is preeminent among virtues. However, as demographic trends in China mirror those seen in Japan, the aging of the Chinese population is driving major changes in the context in which filial piety is performed and even in views on what constitutes a happy household and other value systems.

Japanese Businesses Apply Lessons from Aging Home Market to Expand AbroadTakeuchi Yukifumi

Recognizing the rapid aging of Thai society and the needs of its wealthy, businesses from Japan have begun expanding into the country, applying lessons learned at the forefront of the trend of aging Asian societies. Positive results are expected as the “Japanese model” for elder care homes and other care services spreads.

The Volunteer Care Network Supporting Rural Thai AreasTakeuchi Yukifumi

The aging of society continues across Asia. Japan leads the trend, but other Asian countries are close behind, just like geese flying in formation. In Southeast Asia, Thailand is aging at a rate exceeded only by Singapore. Takeuchi Yukifumi looks at current care practices in rural Thailand.

Ibasho House: A Communal Place in an Aging Local CommunityTanaka Yasuhiro

Located in Ōfunato, Iwate Prefecture, one of the areas worst affected by the 3/11 disaster, Ibasho House is a place where the elderly contribute to their local community. The aim is to create ways for people to participate in society in a dignified manner, whatever their age.

Japan at the Forefront of Super-Aging Societies

This article, the first in a series by the Sasakawa Peace Foundation’s Issues and Implications of Aging Asian Population Project, looks at the current state of aging in Japan and its efforts, as an “advanced” nation in this field, to tackle the issue.

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