General Principles Concerning Measures for the Aged Society
This translation was made by Cabinet Office for distribution at "The Second World Assembly on Ageing 2002", held in Madrid, Spain, April 2002.
The aging of Japan's social structure is progressing extremely rapidly. This, together with multi-tiered socio-economic changes, exerts widespread correlative influences in the everyday lives of citizens. In the near future, the post-war baby boomers will reach old age, and Japan will become a full-blown aged society.
Under these circumstances, in order to establish an affluent and vital society with a pervasive spirit of solidarity in which every citizen can feel happy and proud to have lived a long life, it is necessary to ensure sound development of the economy and society and stable improvement of people's living conditions. Measures are to be implemented to constantly revise the socio-economic system to ensure its suitability for the coming aged society, support individual independence and familial roles, and sustain a secure lifestyle through an appropriate combination of self, mutual, and public support.
To achieve this goal, the General Principles have been established in accordance with Article 6 of The Basic Law on Measures for the Aged Society (law No. 129, 1995) (hereinafter referred to as the "Law") as guidelines for basic and comprehensive measures for the aged society to be implemented by the Japanese government.
In principle, measures for the aged society should be implemented with the goal of building a society with the following characteristics as prescribed in Article 2 of the Law:
1) A fair and energetic society where people can be ensured of the opportunity to participate in diverse social activities or work throughout their lives.
2) A society where people are respected as important members of the community throughout their lives and where local communities are formed based on a spirit of independence and solidarity.
3) An affluent society where people can live peacefully and with fulfillment throughout their lives.
In order to achieve these basic principles, it is vital to implement measures for an aging society under a system in which all members of society can help and support each other. This can be achieved through cooperation among all units of society, such as the national government, local governments, corporations, local communities, non-profit organizations, families, and individuals, as well as their active involvement in achieving this goal.
To facilitate such efforts, government measures for the aged society are to be promoted in line with the basic positions described below.
Overall, older people today are active, healthy, and financially secure. However, the individual situation of elderly people and their living circumstances can vary widely according to gender, state of health, financial situation, family structure, and housing, and thus it is impossible to treat them all in the same way.
Policies are to be developed based on the diversity of older people and free from conventional stereotypes of older people as physically and financially impoverished.
Policies are not to be limited to resolving health, financial, and social problems only after these problems emerge and are to be developed systematically throughout citizens' lives. Government is to support citizens' self-help efforts to build up their financial assets, improve health, learn, and participate in social activity from a young age in order to prevent and prepare for problems that may occur in their old age.
The required infrastructure is to be set up to foster the proactive participation of elderly citizens in local communities and to activate community functions such as mutual support. This infrastructure should be in accordance with the social and economic characteristics of local communities, such as the local aging situation and whether the community is located in an urban or rural area.
Policies will be developed from a gender equality perspective so that both men and women can enjoy vitality and security throughout their lives. The government is to implement policies that consider the different situations of elderly men and women and pay special attention to the situation of elderly women regarding lifestyle, finance, and health, as women's life expectancy exceeds that of men.
The research development and application of high technology in the fields of medical care, welfare, information, and communications will be promoted so that their benefits can also be enjoyed by older people.
In order to further advance policies for the aged society, the government must step outside basic sector-specific policy frameworks, identify the issues that require a cross-sectional approach as follows, and comprehensively promote related measures, while keeping in mind that the post-war baby boomers will be entering old age in little over a decade.
The government, while respecting the diversity of older people, is to provide support so that older people may feel secure in leading independent lifestyles.
In providing support for independence in old age, the government is to ensure that elderly people are able to make independent decisions regarding a variety of lifestyle choices. We anticipate an increase in the number of active elderly citizens who express a desire to lead a diversified lifestyle regardless of age, and also an increase in the number of elderly living alone or requiring care. Thus, measures that consider the needs of these elderly people in particular are to be developed.
Treating elderly people differently simply because of their age may ultimately interfere with their participation in work and various other social activities. Work age limits and other systems or conventional practices are to be revised.
Conversely, uniformly preferential treatment of elderly people based solely on age is also to be revised to ascertain whether or not-as life expectancy increases and the health and financial security of elderly people changes-such treatment is truly necessary; and even if this is necessary, whether or not current age-setting criteria are appropriate.
Issues regarding the infringement of the human rights of elderly people are to be actively addressed in cooperation with relevant bodies.
Furthermore, the spread of universal design is to be promoted so that all citizens, despite declining physical function due to aging, are able to enjoy a comfortable life.
The following measures are to be implemented in order to strengthen solidarity between older people and younger generations.
With regard to intergenerational relationships within families, support is to be provided so that citizens are able to strengthen intergenerational solidarity in ways appropriate to their particular family structure.
To ensure greater fairness in intergenerational relationships within the social security system, a balance between benefits and obligations is to be struck. Contribution amounts are to be set in a fair way according to their capacities, regardless of age. In addition, the government is to establish an environment that nurtures a spirit of solidarity supportive of the social security system among the younger generation through education and social participation.
Furthermore, activation of intergenerational interaction, as well as joint participation of elderly and young people in a diverse range of social activities, including the workplace, is to be encouraged.
To promote the participation of elderly people in the local community, infrastructures that support the activities of Silver Human Resource Centers and NPOs and facilitate the start up of localized businesses are to be created.
To facilitate the activity of all citizens, establishment of a barrier free environment for public transport systems, roads, traffic safety facilities, and public buildings is to be promoted under universal design concepts. Furthermore, in order to encourage lifetime local community participation for all citizens, including those of working age, such measures as increased work diversity and flexibility, reduced working hours, and urban planning that reduces commuting time are to be promoted.
In order to promote these cross sectional approaches, interdisciplinary research and evaluation regarding policies for aging and the aged society are also to be encouraged.
In accordance with the above-mentioned basic approaches for promoting measures for the aged society, the following mid-term guidelines have been established regarding basic measures by sector for each of Working and Income, Health and Welfare, Learning and Social Participation, and Living Environment. Policies are to be developed in accordance with these guidelines.
In order to maintain a vital socio-economic system even in the rapidly aging society, employment and working infrastructures that enable elderly citizens, through their knowledge and experience, to support the socio-economic system are to be established.
Taking into consideration the aging of the workforce structure and raising of the age for public pension payment eligibility, stable employment in particular will be secured by raising the retirement age and introducing continued employment systems so that, as a general rule, those who want to work may continue to do so, according to their wishes and capabilities, until age 65.
So that workers are able to balance their working, family, and community lives and effectively use their skills throughout their working lives, measures such as development of occupational skills, reduction of working hours, increased assurance of equal employment opportunities and treatment for men and women, and promotion of childcare and family-care leave systems will be developed.
Post-retirement income will be assured. Income will mainly comprise payments from the public pension system, which is based on social solidarity, supplemented by private assets such as from corporate pensions, retirement benefits, or private pensions.
(a) Ensuring Employment Until Age 65 by Utilizing Knowledge and Experience
To guarantee stable employment until age 65, education and guidance targeted at employers regarding the raising of the retirement age and introduction of continued employment systems will be provided. It will also be necessary to provide consultation services and support to meet such conditions as implementing these steps and revising employees' wage and compensation systems, as well as to effectively utilize the various subsidy and benefits systems supporting employment for older people.
In consideration of the changes in mental and physical function due to aging, such effects will be made as prevention of work-related accidents, maintenance and enhancement of health, and improvement of the work environment.
(b) Supporting and Promoting Reemployment of Middle-Aged and Elderly People
To facilitate the smooth reemployment of middle-aged and elderly workers who have left their jobs for such reasons as retirement or dismissal, employers will be educated and supported regarding their providing reemployment assistance through reemployment support planning systems implemented while the worker is still employed. Workers about to leave their jobs will be provided with career counseling and job-placement services.
Unemployed middle-aged and elderly workers will be provided with unemployment insurance payments so as to ensure stable life during their period of unemployment. In order to facilitate speedy reemployment, not only will effective career counseling and job-placement services be provided, but measures such as vocational training, creating new job opportunities, and providing employment information will also be implemented.
(c) Securing Diversified Forms of Employment and Work Opportunities
Among older people, there is great diversity in work requirements as well as great differences in health and physical fitness. For this reason, diversified forms of employment and work opportunities will be secured.
In local areas in particular, work opportunities will be provided for elderly people seeking post-retirement temporary or part-time employment. To achieve this end, Silver Human Resource Center services will be actively developed through such measures as expanding the operational areas of each center and promoting the provision of daily life support and care services for elderly people.
In addition, to enable workers to plan for their old age or post-retirement lives, not only are they to be provided with the information they need, but also their employers are to be encouraged to provide assistance.
(d) Supporting the Start Up of Businesses
To enable elderly people to start their own businesses by utilizing their career experiences and to create continuous work opportunities, elderly people who desire to start their own businesses will be assisted through the provision of counseling and other supportive services.
(e) Approaches for Realizing a Society in which All Can Work, Regardless of Age
As a step towards easing age restrictions in worker recruitment - a serious barrier to the reemployment of elderly people - public employment security offices will take the lead in providing equal employment opportunities for all, regardless of age, through the education and direction of employers in accordance with guidelines for appropriate employer action.
In the future, it will be necessary to realize a society in which all can work regardless of age. As serious issues affecting employment practices in Japan, the form such a society should take and the infrastructures required to bring it into existence will be examined in conjunction with extensive input from citizens from all walks of life.
(a) Human Resources Development throughout Their Working Lives
To enable workers to use their vocational abilities fully throughout their working lives, it is imperative that not only company-based human resources development but also individual-based vocational ability development be promoted.
Promotion of the following measures is to be achieved; (1) the creation and guarantee of a diverse range of educational and training opportunities made available by the full utilization of educational and training resources such as private educational and training organizations, employers, universities, and NPOs; (2) support for career development through such measures as career consultation; (3) the implementation of comprehensive vocational ability evaluation systems for a wide range of job classifications; and (4) the development of frameworks for gathering and disseminating information about human resources development.
(b) Realizing a Pressure Free Working Environment
The Japanese government has set a target of 1,800 total actual working hours per person per year. To realize this target, emphasis will be placed on encouraging workers to take annual paid holidays and on reducing overtime-working hours. Efforts will continue in reducing overall working hours and creating a pleasant work environment for all workforce members, including elderly people and women.
Furthermore, in addition to encouraging the popularization of "R & R" holidays, a system will be established to introduce workers, including retirees, to participate in volunteer activities.
(c) Maximizing Women's Abilities in the Workplace
To enable women to fully exercise their abilities in the workplace, equal opportunities and treatment for men and women will be guaranteed. Measures such as providing job placement services and vocational training that respond to the needs of women and encouraging women to assume management roles in the agriculture, forestry and fishing industries will also be promoted.
(d) Promoting Measures to Assist Working People Balance Professional Careers and Family Life
A work environment that facilitates workers' taking of maternity leave and family-care leave and re-entering the workplace after leave will be promoted. A work environment supportive of workers involved in childcare or family-care while continuing to work will also be promoted and a framework established that promotes employment or working conditions enabling working people to balance professional careers with childcare and family-care.
(e) Facilitating Diversified Forms of Employment
Infrastructures are to be established to provide workers with a diversity of employment options, such as part-time and temporary work, and to promote telecommuting (remote office), minimal-commuting working arrangements and other forms of employment that utilize telecommunications.
(a) Establishing Sustainable and Stable Public Pension Systems
As the aging of society proceeds at a rapid pace, a sustainable, secure public pension system, in which the generations provide mutual support, will continue to fulfill the function of solidly supporting the fundamentals of life in old age. To enable this, it will be necessary to advertise and diffuse information about the basic principles and importance of the system, such as emphasizing the rational structure of the pension system as a reliable method for ensuring income for elderly people into the distant future through intergenerational support. It will also be necessary to provide balance between benefits and contributions among generations and establish the mutually supportive and sustainable system toward the next financial recalculation, planned for 2004.
In order to avoid placing an excessive financial burden on future generations, moves will be made to ensure the early rescindment of the current freeze on increases in pension contributions. With regard to the basic pension, Article 2 of the Supplementary Provisions of the Law Amending the National Pension Law (Law No.18, 2000) states that: "Benefit levels and finance methods will be widely examined and, as an immediate measure, stable sources of revenue will be secured and the proportion of pension benefits covered by the National Treasury will be increased to one half by 2004". Earnest consideration will be given to how this provision should be put into effect with concrete measures to ensure stable sources of revenue.
(b) Creating Public Pension Systems that do not Effect the Lifestyle Choices of Individuals
To respond to the diversification of working styles, such as the increase in part-time employment, and to changes in the lifestyles of women, the pension system will be revised so that no biased treatment arises as a result of citizen's individual lifestyle choices, such as work.
(c) Promoting Integration of Public Pension Systems
In accordance with the March 16, 2001 Cabinet decision, "Regarding the Promotion of Integration of Public Pension Systems," integration of the public pension systems will be further promoted in response to such factors as changes in working structures and the system's progressive maturation, and to ensure the stability and fairness of the public pension systems.
(a) Maintaining Corporate Pension Systems, Etc.
Pension systems outside the public pension system such as the corporate pension, the National Pension Fund, and defined contribution pension that complement the public pension system play an important role as a self-help means of boosting income security in old age for citizens in response to their diverse needs. Smooth popularization and application of the newly introduced defined contribution pension system will be ensured. Workers' rights to receive corporate pension benefits will also be protected through such measures as ensuring a smooth switch from the Tax Qualified Pension to other pension systems, in accordance with the Defined Benefit Corporate Pension Law (Law No.50, 2001) enacted in June 2001.
(b) Reform of Retirement Benefit Systems, Etc.
In light of the large role that retirement benefits systems will continue to play as a secure income source for elderly people as the aging of society progresses, introduction of external reserve systems will be promoted in order to guarantee retirement benefits. Expansion of retirement benefits systems among medium and small sized companies will also be promoted.
(c)Promoting the Accumulation of Assets, Etc. in Preparation for Old Age
In order to help ensure comfortable lifestyles in their old age, citizens will be encouraged to help themselves by building up assets. This is to be promoted through the development of financial products aimed at providing secure income in old age and enrichment of the various financial services available. Measures will also continue to encourage workers to begin building their assets in a planned way before they retire.
In addition, frameworks that enable the utilization of elderly people's private assets as a means of covering their old age living expenses will be developed.
Furthermore, general awareness of the adult guardianship system for older people will be increased in order to ensure safe management of the assets of elderly people whose decision-making abilities have diminished.
The government will comprehensively encourage lifelong health promotion so that a healthy and well lifestyle can be guaranteed and long life enjoyed through efforts to maintain good health from a younger age, to recover from illness or injury as completely as possible, and, even if good health is lost, preserve a healthy lifestyle without the condition worsening.
With respect to care for older people, the Long-Term Care Insurance System, which was implemented as a framework for all citizens to provide mutual support for care, will be enforced steadily until it becomes established within society. In addition to establishing an infrastructure for high quality care services through the steady implementation of the "Gold Plan 21," which began in 2000, measures for providing support for elderly people with senile dementia, whose number is anticipated to increase rapidly in the future, will be promoted.
To ensure that citizens continue to receive reliable, high quality medical services in the aged society of the future, the medical care system for older people must be reconstructed in order to create a framework to maintain the high quality of medical care while keeping increases in medical expenses for older people within appropriate limits, and that distributes the financial burden for medical expenses for older people fairly among generations and medical insurance systems.
Furthermore, since measures to counteract the decreasing birthrate in Japan are important in constructing a vital and active aged society, measures that support childcare will be promoted comprehensively and systematically.
(a) Health Promotion throughout Life
Policies will be promoted focusing on "primary prevention" of which involves health promotion and preservation of diseases through the improvement of lifestyles such as nutrition, diet, exercise, relaxation, smoking, and drinking from a younger age. In order to support citizens' health promotion activity, based on their own will, sufficient and appropriate information will be made available, and a supportive social environment around them will be created. Targets will be set based on scientific evidence, taking into consideration the differences in gender and age, and the activities to achieve these targets evaluated appropriately. The evaluation results will be reflected in future health promotion activities.
In order to encourage the health promotion strategies above, advocacy, survey and research will be encouraged. A framework for mutual cooperation and coordination between health promotion-related organizations and NGOs is created. Concrete plans are drawn up for health promotion in local areas.
Furthermore, the implementation of health care management for workers will be promoted in the workplace, and common ground will be established between health services in the community and those in the workplace in order to encourage smooth coordination of these services.
(b)Establishing Health Promotion Facilities
In order to facilitate lifelong health promotion, the establishment of health promotion facilities in local communities is promoted. The establishment of facilities that enable people to improve their health as they experience nature will also be promoted.
In addition, human resources who play the role of providing support for health promotion are to be secured.
(c)Promoting Preventive Care
Preventive care measures will be promoted to avoid a situation in which elderly people become bedridden, require long-term care, and their conditions get worse.
The Long-Term Care Insurance System, which was established as a system to support the self-sufficiency of elderly people requiring care through the mutual support of all citizens, is implemented steadily. Reforms will be made in operational areas as necessary, based on observations of the system in practice, so that the system becomes established.
Measures to support the daily lives of elderly people living alone will also be implemented as measures related to care insurance.
(a) Ensuring Required Care Services
Considering the situation regarding local plans for insured long-term care services and provision of high-quality care services that meet the needs of elderly people who need long-term care will be systematically promoted in accordance with the "Gold Plan 21."
To achieve this, training human resources as home helpers and care workers will be ensured, and care related facilities such as special nursing homes and health service facilities for older people will be further constructed.
Appropriate popularization and application of nursing care equipment and housing improvements/additions will also be promoted.
In addition, care worker employment management will be reformed, and the capability of both public employment security offices and private job centers to adjust labor supply and demand will be strengthened.
(b) Improving the Quality of Care Services
In addition to improving the skills of care specialists, home helpers, care workers, and others involved in the care of older people, information about care providers will be made available through such avenues as telecommunications to enable consumers to make appropriate care service choices and take advantage of high-quality services.
In addition to promoting "new type" special nursing homes for older people characterized by all single rooms and group-care unit, efforts will continue to phase out the use of physical restraints in care facilities.
(c) Promoting Supportive Measures for Elderly People with Senile Dementia
To provide support for elderly people with senile dementia, whose numbers are expected to increase rapidly in the future, more group-homes for elderly people with senile dementia will be constructed. In addition, the quality of care available for elderly people with senile dementia will be improved through research and specialist training, and the establishment of research/training networks. The system of counseling for elderly people with senile dementia and protecting their rights will be further promoted.
(a)Revision of the Eligible Age Range and the Promotion of Public Funds
From the standpoint of focusing on measures to assist people in their later old age, the eligible age for the medical system for older people will be 75 years and over and the proportion of medical expenses covered by government funds will be raised under the current medical system for older people until a new medical care system for older people is established.
As the eligible age for the medical system is raised, co-payment by people aged between 70 and 74 years inclusive, who will become eligible for general medical insurance, will be considered to be the same as that by people aged 75 years and over.
(b)Revision of Co-payment
Co-payment by older people will be a fixed rate (10%) of medical costs. As for people with low incomes, co-payment will be reduced, and co-payment by people with income over a certain level will be raised to a level appropriate to their means.
(c)Optimizing the Growth in Total Medical Expenditure
In order to optimize the growth in medical expenditure, particularly medical expenditure for older people, the growth of which greatly exceeds that of the growth of older people population, to reasonable levels, guidelines for optimizing growth rates will be set up, and measures for following these guidelines will be considered and implemented.
(d)Establishing a New Medical Services System for older people
Taking into consideration the period in which the aging of society peaks, issues such as the basic characteristics and funding structure of the medical services system, its relationship with Long-Term Care Insurance, and revision of the financial system for the medical system for older people, which is mainly covered by contributions from medical insurances, will be discussed in order to establish a new medical services system as swiftly as possible.
(e)Reform of the Medical Services System
Citizens must be assured of the safety and trustworthiness of the medical system through such measures as construction of a framework for the medical services system that maximizes the efficient use of limited resources, and improvement of the quality and effectiveness of medical services while respecting the choices of patients made based on access to reliable information.
To respond appropriately and swiftly to the issue of declining birthrates and create a society in which people see their hopes and dreams in family and child rearing, measures supporting childcare, such as providing diversified high quality daycare service and enhancing maternal and child health care frameworks, will be promoted comprehensively. The following measures will have particular priority: (1) promotion of a "zero waiting list" strategy under which daycare centers systematically increase the number of children they can accommodate; (2) enhancement of the supportive role of kindergartens in child rearing; and (3) creation of a framework for after school care.
To enable health and welfare services to respond appropriately to citizen's needs as well as improve service quality and effectiveness, a variety of organizations such as private companies and NPOs will be encouraged to enter this market, and their healthy growth and activity promoted. To promote the establishment of a framework for comprehensively providing services in neighborhood areas and in which citizens can provide mutual support, the development of community welfare planning by local governments will be supported.
In the aging society where people's values increasingly diversify, it is vital to provide people with opportunities to seek fulfillment in their intellectual and everyday lives and continuously acquire new knowledge and skills in response to socio-economic changes. It is the government's aim to create a lifelong learning system in which people can freely choose their learning opportunities and their efforts can be evaluated appropriately.
In addition, to help elderly people to be active and fulfilled, regardless of their age, as valued members of society and interact with other generations, their social participation, including volunteer activities, should be facilitated and an environment developed in which older people can make the most of their free time and enjoy fulfilling lifestyles.
Furthermore, volunteer activities and other social activities performed in Silver Human Resource Centers and NPOs help older people to satisfy their wish for self-fulfillment and participation in their local community. They also help older people to contribute to enhancing community welfare, and promote a spirit of intergenerational solidarity and mutual support through interaction among generations. Social infrastructures will be developed so that the initiative of all citizens can be respected and they are able to freely participate in these activities.
(a) Improving Systems and Infrastructures for Lifelong Learning
With the aim of creating a lifelong learning system and achieving structured improvements in learning opportunities, a comprehensive system to promote lifelong learning will be developed in cooperation with the relevant public and private organizations, such as social education facilities and institutions of higher education. Meetings and conferences will be organized to establish regional cooperation, and master plans necessary for comprehensive implementation will be developed.
In addition, to strengthen the infrastructure for providing lifelong learning opportunities, lifelong learning will be promoted, information and consultation services will be improved, instructors will be trained, and learning achievements will be appropriately evaluated.
(b) Ensuring Diverse Learning Opportunities at School
At primary and secondary educational institutions, understanding of elderly people and challenges concerning the aged society such as care and welfare will be deepened through interaction between students and older people in social service experiences like volunteer activities provided with the cooperation of the local community.
Moreover, at higher educational institutions, such as colleges and universities, efforts will be made to implement special enrollment systems for adults, establish night graduate schools, offer day and night courses, and establish and improve learning circumstance of the University of the Air service nationwide in order to provide adults with advanced and practical learning opportunities.
School functions and facilities will also be made available to the public for open seminars aimed at local residents and the utilization of unused classrooms for social education.
(c) Providing Diverse Learning Opportunities
In order to meet citizen's diversifying and growing demands for learning, diverse lifelong learning opportunities will be provided through the promotion of social education at community centers, libraries, and museums, cultural activities at art museums, and sports activities, by utilization of information and communication networks while ensuring the sound development of private sector.
(d) Supporting Working People's Learning Activities
To develop a system in which working people can learn by taking leave from their workplace for lengthy periods of time, paid-vacation systems for education and training will be promoted and measures will be developed to directly support individual workers who try to develop their occupational skills through their own initiative.
(a) Promoting Participation of older people in Social Activities
In order to build vital local communities as well as to help older people play an active community role, regardless of age, together with other generations as valued members of society, the participation of older people in social activities will be encouraged.
To achieve this goal, opportunities will be provided for older people and younger generations to further mutual exchange, and the volunteer activities and other forms of social participation of older people will be supported. Moreover, education for the social participation of older people will be provided, information and consulting services improved, and instructors trained.
In addition, as intergenerational exchange advances, to help utilize the abilities of elderly citizens overseas, programs will be promoted so that the expertise and skills of elderly and retired people can be utilized in overseas technical cooperation and other international activities.
Furthermore, to help older people live fulfilling lives in which they can enjoy recreation, sightseeing, hobbies, and cultural activities, leisure facilities for older people will be improved, existing facilities will be more effectively utilized, service information will be provided, and subtitled broadcasts will be upgraded.
(b) Improving the Activities Base of Non-Profit Organizations
The base for volunteer activities will be improved through effective cooperation between the relevant local organizations and government organizations, so that all citizens are easily able to participate in NPO activities.
To achieve this, provision of information, consultation, registration, and referral systems for volunteer activities, and implementation of introductory seminars and hands-on experience programs will be promoted.
In addition, training and study for leaders and coordinators of volunteer activities will be implemented, and a base for volunteer activities established.
The expansion and utilization of the Specified Nonprofit Corporation System will also be promoted in order to improve the base for group activities.
Since houses serve as the basis for peoples' lifestyles, housing environments will be improved so that people can choose their housing based on their life plans, thereby ensuring lifelong, stable, and comfortable residential living. To achieve this goal, housing standards will be improved, improvement of housing market conditions will be promoted, and housing styles will be diversified so that people can live with or near to their parents. In conjunction with welfare measures, moreover, the provision of housing equipped with daily life supports that allow self-sufficiency or care for older people will be promoted.
In order that all people, including older people, are able to live safely and securely and participate in society, a continuous barrier free environment that encompasses both soft and hard aspects and extends from home, to public transport, to central city areas will be created.
Under the effective coordination of relevant organizations and with the cooperation of local residents, an environment will be created in which older people are protected from traffic accidents, crime, and disasters, and can live safely and securely, particularly those elderly living alone or with disabilities.
Furthermore, considering the status and socio-economic characteristics of the aging society, living environments will be developed to create comfortable urban atmospheres through the use of water and greenery, and to vitalize agriculture, forestry and fishery villages.
(a) Promoting the Provision of High-Quality Housing
To provide high-quality housing which serves as the basis of a stable and comfortable lifestyle, efforts will be made to ensure that two-thirds of the households nationwide achieve the target housing standards by FY 2015 and half of the households in all major cities achieve the same goal by FY 2010. In particular, measures will be taken to ensure that there will be no more housing that is below the minimum housing standards, with particular focus on apartments in major cities.
To achieve this goal, support will be provided for young people to acquire or improve their own housing. With respect to apartments, support systems will be effectively utilized to facilitate the supply of high quality private rented housing and efforts to provide an appropriate supply of public rented housing will be made.
Furthermore, improving housing market conditions, such as the used home market and home renovation market, will also be promoted including the standpoint of making full use of the real estate assets of elderly people.
(b) Diversifying Housing Styles
The construction and extension of housing will be facilitated through the use of loan systems so as to allow people to live with their parents in their own homes.
To protect against conflict when elderly people move into rental housing, application and expansion of a system of registration for housing that accepts elderly residents will be promoted.
Moreover, public rented housing for older people will be supplied, taking into consideration the needs of citizens for living with or near their parents, and communal living arrangements which do not involve blood relations.
(c) Developing Housing that Facilitates Self-Sufficiency and Care
In order to create a stock of housing that meets the needs of elderly people, a target has been set for 20% of total housing in 2015 to be equipped with handrails and wide hallways and have the same floor height throughout. An additional target has been set for a further 20% of housing to be renovated to meet the barrier free requirements of individual residents by the same year.
To achieve these goals, through the promotion of the Design Guidelines for Housing for older people and loan systems, the construction and renovation of houses suitable for self-sufficiency and care for older people will be provided.
In addition to promoting the construction or renovation of housing to create public rental housing that caters to the needs of elderly people with declined physical capabilities, a support system will be utilized in promoting the supply of high quality rental housing for older people by the private sector.
Furthermore, coordination between housing and welfare policies will be strengthened, with the provision of housing for older people equipped with daily life supports, and the development of public housing complexes incorporating daily life support facilities will be promoted.
(a) Comprehensive Promotion of Urban Planning to Meet the Needs of older people
So that all people, including older people, are able to live safely and securely and participate in society, a continuous barrier free environment that encompasses both soft and hard aspects and extends from home, to public transport, to central city areas will be created. In addition, urban planning in which people's homes and their workplaces are closely located will be promoted. Transportation services providing important and diversified support for daily life will also be promoted.
(b) Improving Barrier-Free Public Transportation, Pedestrian Walkways, and the Road Traffic Environment
Public transportation systems will be made barrier-free by installing elevators in traffic terminals such as train stations, and facilities and vehicles will be improved to ensure the convenience of all citizens, including older people.
Standards for roads will be set under the concept of 'universal design', and barrier-free walkway networks will be created through such measures as widening footpaths.
To enable older people to cross busy roads and to drive in safety, measures to improve the road traffic environment, such as the installing Barrier-Free Traffic Signals and enlarging and increasing the luminescence of road signs, will be promoted.
(c) Reform of Buildings and Public Facilities
Public buildings such as hospitals and theaters will be made barrier-free. Government facilities that provide over-the-counter services will be converted to meet specifications focusing on the convenience of all citizens, including older people.
(d) Coordinating Welfare Policies
Urban planning will be promoted in conjunction with welfare measures so that welfare and medical facilities are systematically distributed within urban areas. The development of parks and other infrastructures will also be promoted. In rural areas, sites for welfare and medical facilities, together with farms and other facilities, will be developed.
(a) Ensuring Traffic Safety
In order to prevent older people from becoming involved in traffic accidents, traffic safety awareness among elderly people will be spread extensively through the promotion and expansion of such activities as developing traffic safety equipment for older people, promoting traffic safety education which focuses on participation, experience, and practice, implementing driving aptitude tests for older people, and training 'Silver Leaders' (elderly people trained as traffic safety instructors).
(b) Protection from Crime, Human Rights Infringement, and Corrupt Business Practices
An infrastructure will be established and various measures promoted to protect older people from crime, dangers arising from wandering due to senile dementia, human rights infringements, and corrupt business practices.
In particular, efforts will be made to prevent or redress damage to elderly people requiring care caused by abuse by family members or in facilities, and infringements of property rights by family members or corrupt businesses, by expanding awareness of the rights of older people, providing human rights counseling, and investigating and dealing with human rights infringements.
(c) Promoting Protective Measures against Disaster
Disaster prevention measures to protect elderly people, who are particularly vulnerable to calamities, will be promoted.
(a) Creating Agreeable Urban Environments
To develop urban environments that are safe, agreeable, and full of greenery, urban parklands will be created, trees planted along roads, and access-oriented waterfronts where older people can relax and interact developed. Furthermore, establishing facilities for interaction in disused shops will make shopping centers easier for elderly people to visit.
(b) Creating Vital and Active Rural Communities
In order to create active and vital rural communities, priority will first be on assisting new community members to settle into the rural lifestyle and ensuring the provision of training for them. Conditions will be improved to enable older people to fully demonstrate their skills in both work-related activities, such as agricultural, forestry, or fishing skills, and in community activities. A living environment in which older people can live safely and comfortably will be developed in keeping with local characteristics. Furthermore, from the standpoint of creating open, vital communities, symbiotic relationships and interaction between urban and rural areas will be encouraged.
The research, development, and use of technology greatly contribute to resolving issues associated with aging societies. Various research activities that help realize an affluent and active aging society, such as research into diseases peculiar to older people, health promotion, technical aids for the use of older people, household products, and information and communication tools, and the development of infrastructures will be promoted.
(a) Research into Health Promotion and Diseases Peculiar to older people
With regard to senile dementia, cancer, and other diseases to which older people are susceptible, research and development of new medical technologies and pharmaceuticals through the application of cutting-edge science and technology, such as genomic science, and research for clinical application of these results, as well as research that aims to establish effective health and medical technologies, will be promoted.
Research into various areas, such as basic research on aging and research for clinical application of the results of this basic research, research into lifestyle related diseases , research into effective and efficient nursing care, and research into health promotion, will be promoted.
(b) Research and Development of Technical Aids
In order to support the independence of older people and reduce care burdens, research and development of technical aids and medical equipment for older people will be promoted.
(c) Research and Development of Universal Design Household Products
From the viewpoint of supporting the development of household products, lifestyle infrastructures, and systems which are safe and easy-to-use for all citizens, including older people, research and development in the field of human life engineering and of universal design products will be promoted.
(d) Research and Development of Information and Communication Technology
The research and development of new information and communication technology, including both hardware and software technology, to be applied in work, health and medical care, welfare, learning, social involvement, and living environments for older people, will be promoted.
(a) Establishing an Infrastructure for Promoting Research
To enhance treatment and research structures necessary for the comprehensive medical care of diseases peculiar to older people (medical care for longevity), national center for advanced and specialized medical care will be established, relevant experimental research facilities upgraded, and subsidy systems for health science research improved.
To increase the effectiveness of research and development, a database containing information about the physical characteristics of older people will be compiled, methods for evaluating technical aids will be established, and standardization appropriate for the aging society promoted.
Support systems for research, such as the provision of biogenetic resources vital to research on aging, will be enhanced.
(b) Personnel Development
Professional researchers will be trained, and research and personnel exchange will be encouraged. International collaboration, such as joint research and information and personnel exchange, will also be promoted.
To comprehensively promote measures for the aged society, the Aged Society Policy Council will follow-up on the General Principles, discuss important issues, and prepare an annual report to be submitted to the Diet
The following points are to be noted when promoting measures for the aged society.
(1) Close coordination and cooperation are to be established among the Cabinet Office, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, and other relevant government bodies, and appropriate adjustments made to each measure accordingly.
(2) Measures are to be promoted steadily based on plans with goals that are as clear as possible. Through policy evaluation and the disclosure of administrative information, measures that are efficient and trusted by citizens are to be promoted.
(3) Information about the aging situation and measures for the aged society are to be gathered and analyzed, and frameworks required for providing citizens with this information are to be developed.
(4) Efforts to widely reflect the opinions of citizens in the promotion of measures for the aged society are to be made. To gain the understanding and cooperation of citizens, effective advertising, education, and guidance are to be provided.
In view of the nature of the General Principles as medium to long-term guidelines for governmental measures for the aged society, they may be revised, if deemed necessary, to take account of changes in the socioeconomic situation.