A Singapore government delegation is hoping to tap Japan's experience in providing elderly care, as part of efforts to shape future health and social policies amid a fast greying population in the city-state.
Health Minister Gan Kim Yong arrived in Tokyo on Tuesday morning for a four-day study trip. With him are officials from the Ministry of Health, the Agency for Integrated Care, the Housing Board and the Ageing Population Office.
A ministry statement said: "The ministry hopes to learn from Japan's experiences in developing its aged care sector and in health promotion, as well as policies pertaining to the financing of long-term care." Singapore is revamping the way it finances health care with measures such as the introduction of compulsory universal health insurance, partly to cope with the growing elderly ranks.
On Tuesday, the delegation visited Tokyo University's gerontology department, and toured the Kashiwa-no-Ha Smart City Project, where elderly people live in rented flats. These flats and the surrounding area are being redeveloped to provide them with better support. The project also aims to provide care and social support, and work opportunities for the elderly.
A survey in Japan found that 70 per cent of people would like to work till they are 70 years old, with the rest hoping to do so for as long as possible. The university also found that Japanese elderly who are jobless or do not have a support network are more prone to suicide.
Mr Gan said: "There is much to learn from their smart city project, very similar to our city for all ages. "They have taken an integrated approach, focusing on care support, social support and infrastructure support. To ensure seniors continue to remain active, their strategy is to help them to continue working and stay connected to the community."
Mr Gan, who is also the Minister-in-charge of Ageing Issues, called on Japan's Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare Norihisa Tamura on Tuesday afternoon. Coincidentally, Mr Gan began his visit a day after Japan celebrated "Respect for the Aged" day. The public holiday, which falls on the third Monday of September, honours the elderly.
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