Japan retirement communities: what can we learn from them?

Japan’s rapidly aging urban population has led to a shortage of qualified medical personnel and facilities nationwide. A continuous exodus from other parts of Japan to Tokyo and the dwindling birth rate has increased the economic disparity between the capital and the rest of the country.

To resolve this, the government is encouraging the populace to the capital to help recreate and relocate Tokyo’s seniors to places like Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) of which the city of Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture is a notable example.

The need for building CCRCs

These are several reasons for building CCRCs:

  1. To develop facilities that unite the elderly, younger people, and children.
  2. To provide help for people with physical limitations.
  3. To have easy access to medical and social welfare services.
  4. To access a wide range of activities that allow seniors to better integrate into the community.

Challenges involved in the development of CCRCs

There are a few challenges involved in developing CCRCs. They are:

  1. The convenience of location as well as access to medical and social welfare services.
  2. Uncertainty about whether people from urban areas enjoying modern conveniences and mild weather will be willing to relocate to rural areas where life is very different.
  3. Ensuring there are enough people to establish a diverse, supportive community.

Advantages of developing CCRCs

These are among the many benefits involved in developing CCRCs:

  1. People have a good prospect of beginning a “second life” outside Tokyo in a place where they can live a healthy and active lifestyle that costs less than in the capital. Over half of Tokyo men in their 50s and nearly 37 percent of those in their 60s and 34 percent of women in their 50s and 28 percent in their 60s were willing to consider moving into these communities.
  2. It is a community of many different kinds of people.
  3. Local governments hosting CCRCs can maintain and possibly even grow local employment opportunities, especially in the healthcare sector if they have elderly taxpayers relocate to their areas from big cities.
  4. There is a growing number of vacant buildings in towns and smaller cities due to depopulation leading to plenty of opportunities for other parts of the country to create their own CCRC. Country data reports an astronomical 8.2 million empty homes and buildings across Japan. These plots and spaces provide the opportunity to rebuild on.
  5. CCRCs encourage the mingling of older and younger people to create a new value system.
  6. These retirement communities offer a broader variety of local employment opportunities beyond that of caregivers at standard senior centers.

Tokyo seniors have shown an interest in activities such as spending time at a local university studying local issues or being home teachers, or career advisors. CCRCs focus on such enriching activities and their success lie in their well-designed programs which the senior citizens find appealing.

Concepts like the Japanese retirement communities offer us valuable insight into the culture of the land and its people. To know more about the Japanese traditions, mindset, and customs, it would be helpful to engage the services of a professional market research agency to facilitate your familiarizing process prior to setting up a business in the Japanese market.

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