Housing seniors in the community: Japanese struggle toward better ageing



Rapid ageing of the society has reminded us of an emerging issue: What must be done to support people to age-in-place? In Japan, the problem became evident in 1986, and various measures have been tried since then. This report discusses how they have been developed, and argues that there are urgent issues still needing solution from the viewpoint of a housing sociologist. The population forecast in 1986 alarmed Japan that radical steps must be taken to cope with the aging. Changes to the physical environment were proposed by the Ministry of Construction early 1990s, including dwelling design to be suited to highly aged society (not just designing for seniors). Drastic change for caring for seniors was first proposed by the Ministry of Health and Welfare in 1989, which resulted in 2000 as the introduction of long-term care insurance system for seniors. However it actually lacked coordination with the housing policy due to the wall between two Ministries, and most of expenses to be covered were limited to medical and welfare related ones. Only recently, the Ministry of Health and Welfare put forward the idea of community-based integrated care system that recognized the importance of securing physical place of living as the fundamental requirements for the QOL of seniors. Yet, the Ministry lacks effective tools to promote the upgrading of standards of living environment: Institutions and the like are still the preferred place of living, with only slight reference to dwellings. More integration of policies between two Ministries are essential. Ageing/elderly, built environment, policy and legislation Key Messages 1. Population is inevitable in any country. 2. Ageing-in-place is the only feasible solution regarding the choice of where to live. 3. Medical/welfare policy must be integrated with housing policy.


Satoshi Kose

Professor Emeritus, Shizuoka University of Art and Culture

Dr Satoshi Kose is a professor emeritus of Graduate School of Design, Shizuoka University of Art and Culture. He is specialized in the field of building use and safety, human factors, and universal design. He graduated from the University of Tokyo in 1971, and received his Engineering Doctorate on domestic stair safety in 1986.
Before joining the university, he has been with the Building Research Institute of Japan, where he worked for years to develop dwelling design guidelines toward the ageing society in Japan, and became among the first awardees of the Ron Mace Design for the 21st Century Award in June 2000. He was also given salutation during the Include 2003 Conference in London in March 2003. In 2010, he received an Excellent Paper Award at the International Conference for Universal Design in Hamamatsu. He served as resource person for JICA/APCD Project on Building Non‐Handicapping Environments in the UN‐ESCAP area between 2000 and 2004. He has published many papers on designing for the ageing society and universal design.