Keio University hosts the 10th APRU Population Aging Conference in Tokyo
October 24, 2019
On October 14, 2019, Keio University co-hosted the 10th APRU Population Aging Conference alongside the APRU (Association of Pacific-Rim Universities) at Mita Campus in Tokyo, with over 100 participants from Asia-Pacific countries and other regions of the globe. The conference was also supported by the WHO (World Health Organization), MEXT (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology) and MHLW (Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare).
The original two-day program was shortened to a single day in light of the landfall of Super Typhoon Hagibis in Japan over the conference weekend, and focused on presentations and poster sessions by early career researchers, keynote lectures, and a panel of health ministers from Western Pacific countries, including the Republic of Fiji, New Caledonia, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.
Japan is the world’s most rapidly aging country, with about 30% of the population set to be made up of persons aged 65 years or older by 2025. However, aging societies are a burgeoning concern worldwide, and this is especially true of countries in the Asia-Pacific region. The iconic image used by the conference, of Hokusai’s ukiyo-e, known as The Great Wave or "Under the Wave off Kanagawa," juxtaposes the efforts of a tiny boat conquering the gigantic wave with the various initiatives to address an aging society already being undertaken in Japan. As the APRU puts it, universities are the voices of knowledge and innovation needed to realize a sustainable super-aging society. The latest research outcomes in a variety of disciplines, such as medicine, economics, sociology, and psychology, were presented and shared among the participants, accompanied by thought-provoking case studies.
Towards the end of the last panel titled the "Dialogue with Political Leaders," an important comment was made by a student from the floor. The student offered a pointed reminder that persons of the younger generation already make up a given percentage of the population and will continue to do so in the future. She then observed that while the proportion they occupy may be reduced, the younger generations are now dealing with and will continue to deal with the realities and consequences of an aging society, despite which fact they are not being sufficiently involved in or taking a part in policy making. Indeed, the issues and challenges surrounding population aging will be of increasing concern to future generations while continuing to occupy the current generations. Further discussions with young people, i.e., future leaders, along with further promotion of interdisciplinary studies among universities must contribute to increasing society’s fortitude in the midst of the great waves and typhoons to come and the struggle to create sustainable aging societies.
The conference closed with an announcement that the 11th APRU Population Aging Conference will be hosted by the University of Indonesia in 2020.