Problems and Policies
ESRI Studies Series on Ageing
Edited by Koichi Hamada and Hiromi Kato
At the beginning of the twenty-ﬁrst century the world must place the highest priority on constructing a sustainable socioeconomic system that can cope with the rapid ageing of populations in developed countries and with the limited environmental resources available in both developed and developing countries. At ﬁrst glance, the problems of ageing and the environment may seem to be quite separate issues. However, they share a common feature: they both deal with intergenerational problems. The essence of the ageing problem is how to ﬁnd eﬀective ways for a smaller, working generation to support a larger, ageing generation. The crux of the environmental problem is to ﬁnd a feasible way to leave environmental resources to future generations. Moreover, in terms of consumption, slower population growth may slow consumption and help to alleviate environmental problems. On the other hand, a rapidly ageing society may use more energy-intensive technology to compensate for the inevitable labor shortage, and thus cause deterioration on the natural environment. Today, these concerns are highly applicable in Japan. The pressure created by the rapid ageing of the Japanese population is becoming acute; Japan must construct a sustainable society that does not create intergenerational inequity or erode the public welfare. At the same time, Japan cannot deplete its environmental resources and energy, as this would leave future generations with an unbearably heavy burden. The Japanese government has recognized the vital importance of both problems. To explore and implement solutions for this diﬃcult task, in April 2000 former...