If you are interested in learning more about our ageing societies and some of the innovative changes that are taking place in Japan and globally, then you may find the resources presented below a good place to start.

Ageing Societies

WHO Report on Ageing in India

This report, published by WHO in 1999, looks at the demographic transition in India. The authors predict that the absolute number of people over 60 in India will increase from 76 million in 2001 to 137 million in 2021.

WHO Report on Social Development and Ageing – Crisis of Opportunity

Published in June 2000, this report argues that ageing is the next big social development issue. The authors explain that it is a common myth that most older people live in the developed world. In real terms, the vast majority of older people (60 plus) actually live in the developing countries.

WHO website on Ageing
This website acts as a portal to various programmes implemented by the WHO and includes a number of publications and special features on ageing.

WHO Study on Global Ageing and Adult Health

The WHO Multi-Country Studies unit developed the Study on Global AGEing and Adult Health (SAGE) as part of a Longitudinal Survey Programme to compile comprehensive longitudinal information on the health and well-being of adult populations.

World Health Statistics 2008

This report presents health statistics for WHO’s 193 Member States. This fourth edition includes 10 highlights in health statistics, as well as an expanded set of over 70 key health indicators.

Ageing and Health – Africa

The aim of this WHO/AFRO programme based in the Congo is to promote the health and well-being of the elderly population in African countries and their social integration in communities.

Ageing and Health – Western Pacific

In almost every country in the Western Pacific Region, populations are ageing. These demographic shifts are due to large birth cohorts in the past and higher rates of survival, even in the older age groups. The average life expectancy for the Region is 70.5 years for both sexes, 68.6 for males and 72.5 for females, with significant variation between countries.

Japanese Government website on Measures for an Aged Society (available only in Japanese)

This website introduces Japan’s national policy to deal with the hyper aged society. The national white paper on ageing can be downloaded from this website.

Dr. Nobuyoshi Hirose’s Research Laboratory at Keio University (Japanese only)

Professor Hirose and his colleagues at Keio University School of Medicine are undertaking research on Japan’s centenarians. More details about their work can be found at this website.


Olympus Terumo Biomaterials (English and Japanese)

Established in 2004, this corporation undertakes research and development on biomaterials and regenerative medicine.

Prof. Kiyoshi Kurokawa’s blog

Dr Kurokawa is a leading scientist in Japan and former member of the WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health.

Foundation for Biomedical Research and Innovation in Kobe

The Foundation for Biomedical Research and Innovation based in Kobe promotes cooperation between industry, government and academic institutions to carry out clinical research and technological development in the field of cutting-edge medical treatment with the overall aim of improving standards of medical services and helping to bring medical industries closer together. One central theme of the Foundation is responding to the needs of Japan’s ageing society.

Center for Development Biology

Launched in April 2000, the Center for Development Biology undertakes research in the fields of information technology, environmental science and the study of ageing.


Global Review of Projecting Health Expenditures for Older Persons in Developing Countries

This monograph was published by the WHO Kobe Centre in August 2006 and reviews the projections of the anticipated increase in health expenditure in developing countries due to ageing populations. Recommendations are made on how best to improve the accuracy of the projections.

WHO – Lessons for long-term care policy
This 2002 report looks at the long-term care policies in nine developing countries and presents key lessons.

Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare website on Long Term Care Insurance in Japan (in English)
This website explains the long-term care insurance scheme in Japan.

Prime Ministers’ Officer page on the new public health insurance plan (Japanese only)

This webpage provides information on changes to public health insurance for the oldest old in Japan. There is a link to a 20 minute interview with the Minister for Health, Youichi Masuzoe.

Commission on the Social Determinants of Health

The Commission on Social Determinants of Health was launched in March 2005 and was chaired by Prof. Michael Marmot. It brought together leading scientists and practitioners to provide evidence on policies that improve health by addressing the social conditions under which people live and work. The final report from the Commission was released on 28 August 2008.

Healthy Ageing

Public Health Policy and Approaches for Noncommunicable Disease Prevention and Control in Japan: A case study

Published in December 2005, this report examines the way that Japan is handling noncommunicable diseases. With the world’s highest average life expectancy and rapidly declining birth rates, Japan launched a trial in 2000 called the “National health promotion movement in the 21st century (Healthy Japan 21)”, which is focusing on primary prevention to reduce the incidence of these diseases and the financial and social burdens they impose.

WHO report on a life course perspective on maintaining independence in older age

Published in 1999, this report presents a summary of the life course events, which determine the ageing process. The report shows that health and activity in older age are a summary of the living circumstances and actions of an individual during the whole life span. This conceptual approach presents new opportunities, as people are able to influence how they age by adopting healthier lifestyles and by adapting to age-associated changes.

Healthy Ageing

This 2005 report presents practical pointers to keeping well. It includes sections on lifestyle changes and healthy ageing, as well as age related diseases: prevention, treatments and tips. There is also a section on caring for others and also for the carers.

WHO – Keep fit for life: Meeting the nutritional needs of older persons

The annex to this report includes dietary guidelines for older adults, as well as the Heidelberg guidelines for promoting physical activity in the elderly.

United Nations Programme on Ageing

The UN Programme on Ageing is part of the Division for Social Policy and Development (DSPD), United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA). It is the focal point within the United Nations system on matters related to ageing.

WHO Ageing and Nutrition webpage
This webpage highlights the fact that the process of ageing affects nutrient needs. For example, while requirements for some nutrients may be reduced, some data suggest that requirements for other essential nutrients may in fact rise in later life.

Dr. Kazuo Tsubota’s website (Japanese only)

Professor Tsubota from the Keio University School of Medicine is an Ophthalmology medical specialist and works in the area of anti-ageing.

Japan Society of Anti-Aging medicine

The Japanese Society of Anti-Aging Medicine (JAAM) is an association of physicians, health professionals and healthcare industries, dedicated to the development of therapeutics to improve the quality of human life in Japan’s ageing society.

Active Ageing

Age-Friendly Cities Check List

This checklist of essential age-friendly city features is based on the results of the WHO Global Age-Friendly Cities project consultation in 33 cities in 22 countries.

Health, wealth and lifestyles of the older population in England
This website presents the results of a 2002 longitudinal study on ageing in England undertaken by the Institute for Fiscal Studies and led by Professor Michael Marmot. The survey covered socio-demographic characteristics, work and retirement, social activity, health, physical and cognitive function.

WHO Active Ageing (European Region)

WHO/Europe is highlighting the issues associated with active ageing, i.e. fostering policy advocacy, promoting healthy lifestyles, reducing health risks and increasing quality of life, because ageing will put increased economic and social demands on all countries of WHO European Region.

A policy framework has been developed to promote active ageing in Europe.

WHO – Age friendly cities initiative

This website presents information on WHO’s efforts to promote age friendly cities. A number of publications are available including a guide to age friendly cities and a checklist.

WHO Healthy Urbanisation

WHO Kobe Centre’s Healthy Urbanization Project promotes health equity in cities, particularly among exposed populations. To achieve this goal, Healthy Urbanization Field Research Sites have been established in Bangalore, India; Kobe, Japan; San Joaquin, a municipality of Santiago, Chile; Ariana, Tunisia and Suzhou, China.

Silver College

Established in September 1993, Silver College provides education opportunities for citizens of Kobe city who are over 57 years old. Courses cover welfare issues, international exchange, the environment, arts and crafts.

Inamino Gakuen

The Hyogo Inamino Senior Citizens’ College was established in 1969 by Hyogo Prefectural Government and provides a range of ediucational opportunities for the elderly.