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Updated:September 1, 2018

English

Governor's Column (September 2018)

Gerontology

There exists a word that is not often heard by many, called Gerontology. The President of Tama University, Jitsurō Terashima, has recognized Gerontology as being the "Engineering of an Ageing Population", and proposes it as a new societal concept.

The key strategy of the "Industrial Production Capacity Model" of postwar Japan, was the centralization of businesses and the population to the greater metropolitan area. According to Mr. Terashima's analysis, as a result of people wanting to move to the suburbs, and due to the so called new urban middle class currently living in the metropolis and suburbs, the ageing population that was forced to move out is now being brought to the frontlines.

Today, in an era of 100 year life-spans, the question of how to spend the remaining 40 years of one's life after compulsory retirement is a big topic of discussion. I recommend following the concepts of kyōiku: kyō iku tokoro ga aru ("Today, I have somewhere (I need) to go") and kyōyō: kyō yō ga aru ("Today, I have things (I need) to do").

On the other hand, although regulating exercise and food are important in order to lead a long and healthy life, according to recent studies, maintaining social contact with the people around you and not falling prey to loneliness was found to be the most important aspect for longevity and health. In England, where 1 out of 5 adults are reported as feeling a sense of loneliness, a "Minister for Loneliness" has even been appointed as a counter-measure.

In the metropolis and suburbs of Japan, where apartment complexes and high rise buildings resemble a concrete jungle, suppose our senior citizens, having lost all contact with nature and the local surroundings, were to confine themselves to their homes, the condition of our local community would become extremely fragile. We must also consider how compared to the past, the popularity of internet games and convenience stores are influencing our youth to stay in their homes, and may well be turning them into the next generation of lonely senior citizens.

Mr. Terashima explains that to fully live out our 100 year life-spans, it is necessary to completely change our perspectives and re-learn what we already know, from the ground up. The very fact that this is a period of radical change calls for the need to come to terms with ourselves at some level, and realize that it is necessary to create opportunities where we can re-learn and expand our knowledge. Subsequently, I think that it would be beneficial to have this "newly re-educated" new urban middle class help plan the restoration of our society, in fields such as food, agriculture, tourism and support for NPO's and NGO's. In this way, I hope that they can become a strong support system for our society.

I think that it is necessary to put various plans and models into practice, in order to revive communities such as the agricultural community, and to build a society where people can re-connect anew.

Kiyoshi Ueda
Kiyoshi Ueda