Japanese editors visit UWS to discuss aged care

Date: 11/03/2002

As NSW locals were preparing to celebrate Seniors Week, senior newspaper editors from four regions of Japan visited UWS to meet with the Dean of the College of Social and Health Sciences, Professor John McCallum.

The editors visited Australia as part of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's (DFAT) International Media Visits program. The four senior journalists came to do background work on a range of economic issues of interest to Japan.

They asked to meet with Professor McCallum to learn about the major Australia-Japan joint study on aged care led by Professor McCallum, in particular, about how to manage the economic impacts of ageing.

According to Professor McCallum, Japan has reached the political, social and economic crossroads with Japan having the most rapidly aging population on earth, with profound economic and social implications including an impending labour shortage.

"Japan has a large population and small land space while Australia is the exact opposite, a small population in a large continent," Professor McCallum said.

"Australia and Japan have relatively similar proportions of older people however Japan's population is aging much more rapidly, due mainly to the dramatically decreasing fertility rate and absence of immigration."

Economic news editor from the Hokkaido Shimbun Press, Mr Masatoshi Murata, agreed with Professor McCallum, saying that Japan is now "facing a turning point due to its labor shortage and low birth rate".

"This means that Japan is discussing the difficult decision about whether to introduce immigration in the future," Mr Murata said.

As part of their tour, the editors also visited the Hammond Care dementia care facility at Hammondville near Bankstown.

Mr Murata said he was most impressed that the facility had a home-like atmosphere and that it was run by a non-profit organisation.

"These are some things where Japan has much to learn from Australia," he said.

Professor McCallum believes the speed of Japanese ageing requires that they adapt very rapidly.

"Australia has about a 10-15 year lead in systems and management because of our slower process of ageing. On the other hand we have much to learn from Japan about employing older workers."

Professor McCallum believes that it is very important that ageing countries, in particular Asia Pacific partners like Australia and Japan, exchange ideas about ageing.

"In an ageing world we have to find ways of developing trade to meet the needs of older people. The trade in expertise is one important dimension of the export of aged care services," Professor McCallum said.

Professor McCallum said the visit from the top level of the Japanese media was important to the continuing the initiative of links with Japan on the issue of aging populations in Japan and Australia which developed with the joint work he led.

List names and newspapers of editors:

Masatoshi Murata, Editor Economic News, Hokkaido Shimbun
Takao Ohshima, Director & Editor Make-up Division, Kahoku .Shimbun
Masatoshi, Hori, Editorial Center, Nishi Nippon Shimbun
Yoshiro Higashi, City News Section, Nagoya Office, Chuunichi Shimbun
[Note: 'Shimbun' means 'newspaper']


Media contact: Suzie Vlaming, 0414 308 701, email s.vlaming@uws.edu.au