While political tensions and war has caused a major influx into Europe and in turn provided a potential solution to an aging workforce, Japan has been paving the way for innovative solutions to the pressing issue. In 2000 Japan introduced Long Term Care Insurance, or LTCI, which is a program designed to help ease the pressure on children supporting their families while also enabling more women to enter the workforce. Eligible persons, able to buy into the scheme from their 50’s, begin receiving support from the age 65 which can be anything from getting groceries delivered to permanent residence and care.
Further to the LTCI president Abe’s new economic plan, labelled Abenomics, includes a significant investment in experimental medical treatments for ageing illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s. This investment could lead to Japans aging population being healthier and more able to remain in the workforce as opposed to being forced by illness into retirement as discussed in Blog A. This is headlined by a recent partnership of Stanford, Osake, Tokyo and Tokuho universities which is focused on bio-design innovation and a “step-by-step process to health technology innovation” (McCutcheon 2016). The partnership is aimed at inspiring students to think outside of the box and create futuristic, innovative solutions to problems by building an empathetic understanding of the problem. Furthermore Abenomics also places a significant investment on new innovative technologies such as robotics. Marolow writes for the Globe and Mail that developments in robotics benefits spread as far as compassionate seals
being used in hospitals to improve the mood of chemotherapy patients to robotic limbs allowing elderly farmers to continue working (Marlow 2016). It is hard to deny the effectiveness of these technologies but the challenge is that these solutions are not financially realistic for the vast majority of elderly persons who require them.
While Japan is undoubtable leading the way in experimenting different solutions to combat their lopsided economy, time will tell if the innovative solutions such as investment into medical research and new technologies such as robotics will pay off.
Jim Beard, 2016.
McCutcheon, S. 2016, Biodesign Trip Highlights an Innovative Approach to Japan’s Aging Crisis, Stanford Medicine, Stanford, viewed 28 October 2016,<http://scopeblog.stanford.edu/2016/07/20/biodesign-trip-highlights-an-innovative-approach-to-japans-aging-crisis/>.
Marlow, I. 2016, Japan’s Bold Steps, Stanford Medicine, The Globe and Mail, viewed 28 October 2016,<http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/retirement/retire-planning/how-japan-is-coping-with-a-rapidly-aging-population/article27259703/>.
Overhyped, Underappreciated’, The Economist (Abenomics, What it Can Teach the World), 5 August, pp. 54-57.