Preventive Health Care in Contemporary Japan: Innovative Solutions to the Challenges of an Aging Population

Katrina Moore, Harvard University

Population scholars have long analyzed governments’ attempts to revitalize aging populations through pro-natalist policies that raise a nation’s birthrate. The Japanese case shows, however, that more attention must be paid to the pursuit of pro-longevity policies, which focus on maximizing the health of older citizens. This paper explores the rise in significance of communal leisure activities as a measure for boosting the health of Japan's senior citizens. It examines the significance of communal leisure from both the perspective of a national government seeking to reduce the burden of age-related debility and from the perspectives of men and women in their 60s. Drawing on in-depth qualitative research conducted with senior citizens in Tokyo, it analyzes gendered differences in senior citizens’ approaches to attaining health in old age. Reducing the burden of aging has become a national fixation in a nation where over 20 % of the population is over age 65.

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Presented in Session 138: Public Health Implications of Health in Late Life