In this policy brief, journalist Tomoko Sakota examines the challenges that Japan has overcome as a country that experienced rapid population aging and how its systems to address its older population have been built and improved over time. In particular, she explains how, after a process of trial and error, Japan landed upon the concept of “community-based integrated care.” It is hoped that Japan’s experience in shifting away from a focus on medicalizing aging and building nursing homes toward a focus on integrated care that allows older people to age in place can offer useful insights for those Asian countries that are now aging at a rapid pace as well.
- Japan has experimented with various approaches to address the challenge of its aging population, but community-based integrated care has been the most effective solution from the perspectives of equity and sustainability.
- Community-based integrated care leverages existing community resources to support older people and allow them to age in place in their chosen community.
- It also provides a safety net that can address disaster prevention, poverty, and the rebuilding of communities that have disappeared due to urbanization and industrialization.
- Preventive medical care is critical in creating a system to support the needs of older people and to limit the medicalization of care.
- Japan’s universal health coverage (UHC) and long-term care insurance system—although still undergoing growing pains—are critical components, ensuring stable, affordable fees for medical care, and improving the quality of and access to care for Japan’s older residents.
The AHWIN Papers is a publication of the Japan Center for International Exchange (JCIE) in partnership with the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) and carried out under the auspices of the Asian Health and Wellbeing Initiative (AHWIN).