The Nippon Foundation, MetLife Launch “Better Life Better Place” Program for the Elderly and Children in Japan (2) [2021/09/27]
The number of older people in Japan has been increasing. This program will provide a safe, home-like environment where the elderly can spend their last days supported in comfort.
Local home helpers, visiting nurses, and volunteers will work together to support residents’ daily medical, nursing, and preventive care needs. The program aims to have 10 facilities up and running in the Kanto (centering on the Tokyo metropolitan area), Kansai (western Japan), Tohoku (northeastern Japan), and Kyushu (southern Japan) regions by the first half of 2024.
While the majority of older persons in Japan pass away in hospitals, about 80% express a desire to live out their final days at home, according to the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW). As the decline in Japan’s birthrate and the aging of its population accelerate, there is a need for environments in which people can feel at ease at the end of their lives.
The aim of “Third Places for Children,” meanwhile, is to provide after-school facilities for children facing challenges including being left alone or having to eat alone because of family circumstances, or children who are experiencing learning or living difficulties due to developmental characteristics, or a loss of opportunity because of financial circumstances.
These facilities provide children with meals, help them develop good study and living habits, and provide them with opportunities for various life experiences. The facilities also cooperate with schools and professional organizations to serve as a hub for the local community. The program aims to complete two Third Places for Children, one each in the Kanto and Kansai areas, by September 2022.
I told the press conference that roughly one in seven children under 18 in Japan live in relative poverty, according to MHLW, and the economic and educational disparities are expected to only worsen under the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic. Given these difficult conditions, the need for programs like these to support these two vulnerable groups could not be more urgent.
I was greatly impressed by Mr. Dirk Ostijn’s firm grasp on the pressing problems facing senior citizens and children in Japan less than a year after coming to the country.
MetLife Foundation’s grant is probably one of the largest single contributions by a private entity to The Nippon Foundation. With employees of MetLife Japan working as volunteers to support these care facilities across the country, I sincerely hope the program will become a role model for other companies and thus help foster a culture of donations in Japan.