GO Seminar “Aging Japan” was held from October to November, 2013. It consisted of three sessions at 21KOMCEE and fieldwork in Kirigaoka Danchi (apartment complex).
In the first session, we talked about “aging population and financial crisis.” Because of the aging population, expenditure for social security system is increasing in Japan as the dankai generation is getting older.
In addition, the financing of public pension is no longer reserve financing, and therefore the younger generation should pay for the older. We discussed how we can make the social security system sustainable from the perspective of fairness between generations and fairness within each generation.
In the second session, our theme was “aging workforce and labor market.” Japanese companies used to maintain Japanese-style employment practices of lifetime employment and seniority system. These practices encouraged employees to work not only for their own benefit but also for the benefit of their companies. In addition, they secured permanent positions and kept the unemployment rate low. However, Japanese companies can no longer maintain such employment practices because of the aging workforce, and it is causing serious problems. Many young employees are working as non-regular workers, many middle-aged employees cannot get promoted, and many senior employees are demoted.
In the third session, we learned about changes in family and society. While women with higher education tended to become full-time housewives during the rapid economic growth period, more women pursued their own careers after the 1980s.
It leads to lower marriage rates and a lower birthrate, even though most of the women want to get married. The disadvantages for unmarried people are such that it is difficult for them to support their elderly parents, and they cannot get support from their spouses or children when they get old.
In the last session, we visited Kirigaoka Danchi in Kita Ward. Most of the residents are in the same generation, so the area used to be lively when they moved there, but the liveliness disappeared when they got old.
I was very impressed by the shopping district in which there were a lot of closed stores. I heard that the old buildings will be torn down and new buildings will be constructed one after another. In my opinion, public housing is needed by the people who cannot afford expensive apartment rent, but a better solution is required to support them and to make cities sustainable.
This seminar gave me a lot of knowledge and opportunities to think about aging society. I realized that there are many more problems to solve than I expected. It is necessary to think about how to make the financial system sustainable, how to utilize the aging workforce, and how to build good families while adjusting to an aging society.