China, which is now aging faster than any other country, can learn from the experience of the world’s oldest society
The life expectancy of the world’s population is increasing due to economic and social development, improved living standards, improved social security, and advances in science and technology, especially technology medical. But the aging of the population has negative consequences, such as labor shortages, a lack of vigor in society and unsustainable social insurance.
That said, the aging of the population also creates opportunities for the development of human society. If we take the minor stage as the first stage of life and the young and middle-aged people as the second stage, the post-retirement period can be regarded as the third stage of life. There is enormous human resource potential to be tapped in the older workforce. A growing number of older people have maintained very healthy lives even after retirement – some find new jobs or start their own businesses, while others gain knowledge at universities for the elderly, contributing to society and the communities in different ways.
From a global perspective, despite a relatively late onset of population aging, China is aging faster and on a larger scale than any other country. Learn from the experience of countries that are at the forefront of population aging, implement national strategies to actively address the challenges of population aging, and chart a new course in the fight against population aging. population with Chinese characteristics are arduous and urgent tasks that China must undertake.
Japan is an important country from which China can learn to address the problem of aging. The aging of the Japanese population began in the 1970s and has since become an increasingly serious problem. Today, his “super-aged” society is the oldest in the world. As of September 15, 2021, 29.1% of Japan’s population was aged 65 or over. On the other hand, Japan also has one of the highest life expectancies in the world at 84 and the country is also home to a record number of centenarians. Japan is entering an era of centenarians.
As the aging population progresses, the Japanese government and people have actively faced the problems associated with it, accumulating rich experience in addressing the problem of aging, both positive and negative.
Despite the difference in social systems, China and Japan have much in common in demographic structural changes, patterns of population aging, and attitudes toward support for the elderly. Japan’s policies and solutions to deal with population aging, especially “active aging” measures, provide important benchmarks for China.
To begin with, Japan maintained that the elderly are invaluable assets for society, humanity and sustainable development and that they are builders, supporters and entrepreneurs of society. Society should create opportunities for older people to freely choose their way of life in old age. When their state of health deteriorates and they need help, they must have access to sufficient protection, security and care to lead a dignified life; when they want to fully exploit their abilities, society should create opportunities to help and support them to realize their full potential and achieve self-esteem.
Based on the demographic transition, Japan has continuously optimized laws and regulations on health care services for the elderly, improved its system of medical and health care services for the elderly, reformed the system of nursing care insurance, advanced the “combination of medical and health care” and encouraged improved health services for the elderly. In particular, the Long-Term Care Insurance Law which came into force in Japan in 2000 greatly eased the burden on family caregivers for the elderly, effectively mobilized resources from the market, government and organizations not-for-profit, reduce government tax burden and satisfy diverse demands for aged care services.
Japan has also exploited the elderly as a human resource, thereby improving the employment environment for the elderly. The public employment security services of all the prefectures have set up a special consultation and employment assistance desk for the elderly.
Since the turn of the century, the Japanese government has unveiled a number of policies and regulations on raising the mandatory retirement age. It is worth mentioning that carry-over and reuse policies are not mandated by government administrative decrees, but rather are gradually induced by government subsidies and incentives. Some Japanese financial companies provide concessional loans to senior citizens and provide business start-up grants, such as rental and decoration, to encourage them to start their own business.
In 2020, Japan’s older adult population, those over the age of 65, made up 13.4% of the country’s total workforce, a relatively high ratio in the world. It has been proven that fully exploiting the human capital of older people and supporting their social engagement can, to some extent, counteract the negative effects of population ageing.
Since the late 1990s, Japanese NGOs have exploded like mushrooms after rain. Some of them have opened senior cafes, canteens and lounges in local communities, providing a platform for seniors to communicate and socialize with each other. These facilities have also helped the elderly to get out of their homes and participate in careers such as community building, caring for young children, environmental protection and caring for the elderly, etc.
Non-profit organizations in Hokkaido, which target a large number of elderly people living alone, have set up community canteens to deliver meals to them and have held senior citizens’ fairs to promote their social engagement. Many healthy older people have joined community non-profit and voluntary organizations, becoming supporters and entrepreneurs of community development.
Last but not least, educating older people, an important part of education and lifelong learning, has met the knowledge needs of older people, enriched their lives and improved the level of knowledge of skills.
In Japan, education for the elderly is mainly provided by social welfare and educational institutions in Japanese prefectures, counties, cities, towns and neighborhoods, as well as non-profit non-governmental organizations. or non-governmental institutions, with a wide variety of school programs. common subjects and models of education.
Some higher education institutions in Japan integrate their degree training with seniors’ education by holding public lectures for seniors to provide them with degree training opportunities.
The author is a professor at the Institute of Japanese Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily.
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