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(1) Working and Income
- The ratio of the companies securing employment opportunities until age 65 or older is as high as 68.3% as of January 2002; however the ratio of those which accept all the candidates to work up to 65 is merely 27.1%. (Figure 2-3-1)
Figure 2-3-1. Ratios of Companies with Employment Security until Age 65
- In 2002, in case Public Employment Security Office guides raising retirement age, introducing the continued employment system, etc. to employers, efficient and effective guidance and support was carried out in close cooperation between prefectural Labour Department and Association of Employment Development for Senior Citizens; for example, elderly employment advisors of the Association accompany or conduct follow-up counseling.
- Regarding subsidy for promotion and establishment of continued employment, a bill was submitted to the 156th Diet to partially amend Employment Insurance Law including the review of benefits rate in order to balance with unemployment benefits.
- The Law to Partially Amend the Employment Measures Law, etc. to Promote Smooth Re-employment in Accordance with Socioeconomic Changes (1966, Law Number 132) enforced in October 2001 obliges efforts to ease age restrictions in recruitment or employment. Accordingly, in order to effectively implement it, approaches to let employers fully understand it have been carried out through urging public and private employment agencies, central and local economic bodies, municipalities and mass media, etc.
- In order to realize a society where every one is able to continue to work regardless of his/her age, the 'Conference of Intellectuals on Development of Society with Job Opportunities Regardless of Age' has been held since April 2001 for the purpose of widely exchanging opinions about how employment systems should be or how the employment conditions from adoption to retirement should be. The final report was completed in January 2003.
- Based on the '7th Basic Plan for Human Resources Development' (Plan Period: 2001-2005), which was measured in May 2001, conducted were operating 'a corner to support career building' in the Prefectural Centers of Employment and Human Resources Development Organization of Japan, fostering human resources for career consulting, providing subsidies to promote career building for the employers supporting individual workers' career building, etc.
- In November 2001 enacted a law to partially amend 'Law Concerning the Welfare of Workers Who Take Care of Children or Other Family Members, Including Child Care and Family Care Leave' with restrictions on overtime work, etc. to reduce a burden in continuing both working and family chores (2001, Law Number 118), which was enforced in November 2002 in its entirety. Based on this law, promoted are measures to support employees to enable both working and continuing child or long-term care.
- Basic concept and the importance of the public pension system were widely diffused during Pension Week (November 6-12) and other opportunities. Concerning National Pension, above all, thoroughgoing measures to collect a premium have been devised like urging to make payments by phone or door-to-door visits since duties of premium collection were transferred from municipalities to the government in FY 2002.
- Toward the next-term finance re-account to be conducted in 2004, the Pension Section in the Social Security Council is comprehensively examining the system, aiming to establish the sustainable and secure system in future in accordance with the situation changes like a rapid progress of a low fertility and aging society. 'Orientation and Points Concerning the Framework of Pension Reform' was compiled and released by Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare in December 2002, referring to discussion points until then, as a draft for further discussions in future revision.
- In principle, pension benefits are revised following price fluctuation in the previous year; however, while prices went down for three years since FY 2000, they were left unchanged. In FY 2002 as well, Consumer Price Index was -0.9% compared to that of the previous year, and additionally, wages of working generation have been obviously falling in FY 2003, different from the past three years when benefits were left unchanged. Under such a current situation, benefits in FY 2003 are to be indexed to the cost of living. In a calculation according to the law, benefits in FY 2003 decrease 2.6%, adding the total for the past three years, but the revision this time was limited to the falling portion of Price Index in 2002, in consideration of elderly lives. In order to carry out this exceptional treatment, A Law Concerning the Exemption of Benefits Revision Based on National Pension Law in FY 2003 (2003, Law Number 19) was enacted.
- A Study Meeting on Employment and Pension has been held since June 2002 to discuss the points of issues concerning employment and pension from professional viewpoints including labor economics; for example, enabling Employees' Pension to be applied to part-time workers, or how the old-age pension for active older employees should be, etc. A report 'Aiming for a Neutral Pension System to Deal with Diverse Working Styles' was compiled in March 2003. Regarding the application of Employees' Pension to part-time workers, need of further discussion to enlarge the application was indicated from the viewpoint to cope with working style diversities and to improve security by pension as employees.
- Based on the decision at the Cabinet Meeting about 'Promotion of Unifying Public Pension Systems' in March 2001, 'Law to Abolish the Insurance Cooperatives of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Organizations Act Aiming for Consolidating It into the Employees' Pension System,' (2001, Law Number 101) was approved in June 2001. In April 2002, Cooperatives of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Organizations were integrated into Employees' Pension Insurance.
- After the Defined Benefits Corporate Pension Law (2001, Law Number 50) was enforced in April 2002, 'Definite Benefit Corporate Pension Plan,' the corporate original pension without handling business for Employees' Pension benefits was added as a new option. Due to the enforcement of the Law, Qualified Retirement Pension was abolished after a certain period, and switched to the Definite Benefit Corporate Pension Plan. At the same time, it became possible to return the agent of Employees' Pension Fund.
- In 2002, the long-term life support fund loan system was established in Prefectural Council of Social Welfare for elderly households with low income to make a loan with their house as collateral for continuing to live there toward future.
- Information about Adult Guardianship System to protect human rights of older persons with dementia is widely spread, which can contribute to supporting property management for older persons, etc.
(2) Health and Welfare
- Aiming to establish legal foundation to positively promote improving health and preventing disease under a national consensus, 1) The government should propose national goals and fundamental directions for comprehensive promotion of health improvement nationwide. 2) Municipal governments should measure plans for health improvement in order to facilitate it according to individual local circumstances. 3) Concerning physical check-up in working places, communities and schools, common goals should be defined so as to further utilize for their own health improvement throughout life. Health Promotion Law including such contents was enacted in the 154 ordinary session of the Diet, proclaimed in August 2002 and enforced in May 2003.
- In the examination of Long-term Care Insurance fees, it was decided to decrease 2.3% totally and implement them in April 2003, in consideration of currently declining wages and price, and employers' actual business situation, in order to restrain the increasing premium rate, while securing long-term care services in need and financial resources required to improve service qualities. Especially, evaluation highlighted on attaching greater importance on in-home care, supporting self-help and reforming the long-term care levels was conducted; for instance, increasing fees for in-home care support and visiting care, evaluating individual rehabilitation in commuting rehabilitation service, also evaluating Unit Care (Small Scale Lifestyle Care) in Special Nursing Homes for the Elderly, etc.
- From the viewpoint of appropriate spread of group homes for the aged with dementia, measures such as promoting to establish them in residential areas, obliging study and training for managers, etc., promoting disclosure, strengthening partnerships with municipalities have been devised, whereas service assessment by the outsiders (outside assessment) has been obliged since October 2002.
- Structural renovation of the Medical Insurance System has been pursued recently in order to realize the medical system sustainable toward future amid the drastic changes of the environment surrounding the medical system like rapid aging, economic depression, progress of medical technology, changing national awareness. For this purpose, the government and the ruling party have collaborated to discuss on the medical system reform, and Law to Partially Amend the Health Insurance Law was enacted in the 154th Diet. (Figure 2-3-26)
Figure 2-3-26. Increase of Pensionable Age of Medical Care for the Elderly and Ratio of Public Fund Subsidy
- Aiming for the stable management of the system even at the peak of the low fertility aging society in future, Based on a supplementary rule of Law to Partially Amend the Health Insurance Law, basic principles were decided in March 2003 concerning how the Medical Insurance System should be, including reorganization and integration of the insured, establishment of the new medical health system for the elderly and reexamination of the medical fee system.
- 'Current policies to support fostering next generation' was compiled in March 2003. In addition, the government, municipalities and companies worked together to submit to the 156th Diet Law for Measures to Support the Development of the Next-generation to promote support for fostering next generation intensively and systematically, and Law to Amend the Child Welfare Law to strengthen child care support in the communities.
(3) Learning and Social Involvement
- In order that learning opportunities could be appropriately provided depending on a variety of learning demand throughout life, it is important for the government and municipalities to cope positively with the advancement of lifelong learning, and based on Law for Improving the Systems to Promote Measures for the Advancement of Life-long Learning (2003, Law Number 71) the society providing lifelong learning has been created.
- As one of the Projects for Providing Information about Life-long Learning, a program to spread information about life-long learning is being promoted nationwide, and additionally, National Lifelong Learning Festival was held for the purpose of spreading and enlightening life-long learning, including a symposium and experimental workshops. (In Ishikawa Prefecture, October 10-14, 2002, under the theme 'Let's pass learning mind to the bright tomorrow and the world.')
- In the New Courses of Study in elementary schools and junior high schools that have been implemented since FY 2002, measures to positively promote volunteer activities or exchanges with older persons have been under way and further efforts are made to smoothly carry them out (In high schools, enforced in FY 2003).
- A 'Project to Promote Productive Experience Activities' has been developed since FY 2002 so that students of elementary Schools, junior high schools and high schools could participate in a variety of experiential activities including social volunteer experience activities like volunteer activities, with 'Experiential Activities Promotion Area' and 'Promotion Schools' designated in each prefecture.
- A lot of learning opportunities are provided for a wide range of age groups in public halls, libraries, museums, social education facilities for women, the Board of Education, etc. Among these programs are seminars or classes for further understanding aging society or those for older persons themselves. (Table 2-3-36)
Table 2-3-36. Number of Social Education Classes and Courses for the Elderly at the Boards of Education and Community Centers
- Basic courses to learn IT skills were held from January 2001 to December 2002 in social education institutions and the school institutions, aiming that all the people including older persons could master IT basic skills (Approximately 5.2 million participants as of December 2002).
- So that every senior citizen could positively participate in the society, finding their own roles and a sense of fulfillment, it is essential to make efforts to improve various environmental conditions in the society. For this purpose, Senior Citizens' Clubs engaged in positive comprehensive social activities in the communities are subsidized for their further promotion.
- In order to promote older persons' fulfillment and health, grants are provided for enlightenment and diffusion of municipal social activities for seniors, for support of elderly volunteer activities, etc. National Welfare Festival for the Aged was held in Fukushima Prefecture in October 2002.
- From the viewpoint to support social participation activities utilizing seniors' abundant knowledge and experiences and also learning results, a National Forum for Social Participation of Older Persons was held so that a variety of generations of the nation might widely exchange opinions about measures to promote seniors' social participation (In FY 2002, it was held on the theme of 'Enjoy Learning for Active Life' in Ishikawa Prefecture on October 11th).
- Based on the Law to Promote Specified Nonprofit Activities (1998, Law Number 7), environment to promote NPO activities including volunteer ones has been established by qualifying a cooperation status and so on. In December 2002, from the viewpoint to further promote specific NPO activities, Law to Partially Amend the Law to Promote Specified Nonprofit Activities (2002, Law Number 173) was enacted (Implemented in May 1, 2003). Moreover in the tax reform in FY 2003, certified requirements in the Certified NPO System were eased, and deemed contribution system was introduced for certified NPOs.
(4) Living Environment
- The Life Support Advisor (LSA) System was expanded in FY 2002 as well as the housings eligible for such life support services. Additionally, Living Consultation Office for Seniors has been established as a center to provide services in the public residents including LSA, etc.
- Regarding passenger facilities and vehicles of public transport systems, if the details of desirable overall concepts for improving them are shown as the indicator for public transport providers to promote accessibility of public transport systems, more desirable accessibility of the systems users could be expected. Accordingly, in the passenger facilities, barrier-free-ization is realized based on the 'Guidelines to Improve Barrier-Free Access for Public Transport Passenger Facilities,' etc. measured in August 2000. Moreover in order to cope with the problems unsettled in the process of examining the 'Guideline for Auditory Supportive Facilities/devices for Visually Impaired Passengers' was added in October 2002, and the matters regarding point blocks to be installed referred to in Platform at Railway Station in the original guideline was revised in December 2002.
- Regarding walking environment, 'Accessibility Guideline for Roads' was measured in December 2002, which explains concrete concept of smooth accessibility criteria based on the Transportation Accessibility Improvement Law.
- Aiming for elderly people's smooth accessibility, the facilities considering elderly people's use are established such as elevators and escalators in the public transport terminals of the stations or the airports, and the introduction of vehicles like non-step buses are promoted. (Table 2-3-49)
Table 2-3-49. Status of Transportation Accessibility Improvement for Older Persons, etc.
- The Act on Buildings Accessible and Usable for the Elderly and Physically Disabled (FY 1994, Law Number 44) was revised in FY 2002, starting to oblige barrier-free-ization in the specified buildings with a certain use and scale, enforcing further efforts for barrier-free-ization, and expanding support policies for the specified buildings including the exemption system of floor space index.
- In order to appropriately cope with traffic accidents conditions after 'On Comprehensive Traffic Safety Measures for the Elderly' and also the rapid aging in future, and also in order to further improve traffic safety policies based on the new General Principles on Concerning Measures for the Aging Society, 'On Comprehensive Traffic Safety Measures for the Elderly toward the Transition of the Full Scale of Aging Society' was adopted in General Traffic Safety Policy Council in March 2003.
- In Basic Plan for Disaster Prevention (Decided at the Central Disaster Management Council in April 2002) implementation of disaster policies considering the vulnerable including older persons is pointed out, emphasizing the policies against mudslide disasters to protect hospitals, elderly homes, etc. In case the area with the especially high elderly ratio suffers from drastic flood damages or mudslide disasters, efforts to prevent causing the secondary disaster are made.
- In order to promote the programs for older persons' agricultural or local activities in rural regions, workshops are held together with older persons in urban areas. Additionally, spontaneous activities by older persons have been promoted since FY 2002 such as intergenerational partnership programs. Regarding educational activities of forestry environment, training program managers or providing information about leaders has been carried out so that older persons could make best use of their experiences and potentials and be involved in social activities concerning forest utilization.
(5) Promoting Survey and Research
- Researches on the diseases susceptible in older age, such as dementia, cancer, etc., are promoted as a part of Medical Frontier Strategies, as well as in the General Research Project of Longevity Science, etc. Up to FY 2002 researches on developing treatment of immune deficiency syndrome and early diagnosis of the Alzheimer's disease, formulating the guideline for treatment of osteoporosis, etc. were promoted. Moreover, a research team was organized by geriatricians to promote fundamental and clinical researches on causes, diagnosis, medical treatment, prevention, etc of elderly diseases.
- Regarding cancer, the 'New Ten-year Strategy to Overcome Cancer' has been promoted since FY 1994, aiming for developing the research on elucidating nature of cancer and promoting clinical and preventive researches focusing on conquering cancer. Mid- and long-term policies for researches on cancer after FY 2003 have been examined since FY 2001. - Concerning cancer, myocardial infarction, apoplexy, which can be a major cause of a condition requiring care, dementia and bone fracture, researches on medical treatment technology and new medicine utilizing high-technology such as genome science and protein science, and researches for realizing regenerative medical treatment using self-restoration capability, etc. are developed.
- In FY 2002 started a promotion of a project with a goal to realize genome medicine, and translational researches for appropriately returning the fundamental research results of the projects in the university research institute, etc. through the analysis of the basic structure and function of 3,000 or more kinds of protein, concentrating on research development capacities of our country. Meanwhile, research and development aiming to the realization of so-called tailor-made medical treatment which enables individual prevention and treatment, that of regenerative medical treatment using trunk cell, program development to simulate cell and living body function with life information technology and high-tech imaging skills, and establishment of the fundamental facilities to develop living body functional diagnosis and medical examination technology uniting opto-electronics and medical checkup technology have been carried out.
- Regarding medical and welfare apparatus, research and development for apparatus excellent in safety and convenience has been promoted in cooperation with industry, academia and government, with full use of the most advanced industry technology. In FY 2002, in order to promote efficient and effective research and development which exactly meets on-site needs, 'Research and Development of Medical Support System Using Cellular Tissue Technology,' etc. newly started, aiming for supporting regenerative medical treatment useful for treatment of cardiac disease and brain disease, the two Japanese major causes of death from a strategic and long-term viewpoint. At the same time, the 34 research and development projects have been continued since FY 2001 as well.
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