Caring for an ageing population: points to consider from reform in Japan

This report explores how Japan has tried to meet the needs of its ever-growing older population through a new social care system, looking at points of interest for England.


Published: 27/11/2013

ISBN: 978-1-905030-72-9

Download the report [PDF 960.6KB]

In this video interview, Rt Hon Paul Burstow MP describes the need for social care reform in England.

Changing demography and the rising prevalence of long-term conditions has meant that finding a sustainable and fair model of funding social care for our growing older population is a matter of significant policy attention in England.

Japan has the oldest population in the world with 23 per cent of its population aged over 65; this is set to rise to 40 per cent by 2050. In order to address the shortage of social care, to ease burdens on informal carers and to relieve pressure on health services, a new insurance system for long-term care was introduced in Japan in 2000.

It is useful for England to reflect on the Japanese experience – its challenges and difficulties are as valuable as its successes in helping shed light on social care in England Holly Holder, report co-author and Fellow in Health Policy, Nuffield Trust

This compulsory scheme for those over 40 offers access to social care to all those over the age of 65 on the basis of need alone; income and wealth are not taken into consideration in the assessment process. Those who use services are required to make co-payments of up to 10 per cent of the costs of care.

Comparing the experiences in Japan over the last two decades with the situation in England instigates a useful discussion about the type of social care system we are trying to create in England.

Caring for an ageing population: points to consider from reform in Japan provides an overview of the social care system in Japan, the successes and challenges they have experienced, and then goes on to discuss points of interest in relation to the next phases of the debate in England.

The report is from a project part funded by the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation: Universal access and low costs? Health and social care the Japanese way, which included a study visit to Japan in 2012, during which a variety of organisations, policy-makers, clinicians and academics were visited.

Suggested citation

Curry N, Holder H and Patterson L (2013) Caring for an ageing population: points to consider from reform in Japan. Research report. Nuffield Trust.