The Institute of Gerontology of The University of Tokyo was established in April 2009 under the Office of the President as a permanent body of The University of Tokyo. Its establishment is based on three preceding years of research activities in the Program of Gerontological Research*1, under the Organization for Interdisciplinary Research.
Currently Japan is the country with the longest life expectancy, standing at an average of 82 years of age. In 2015, one in four people in the country will be over 65 years of age and the number of people in advanced old age, above the age of 80 years, will have grown significantly. This will make Japan a super-aging society, which is a situation that no country has ever experienced before. The impact of population aging is not limited to the health and welfare sectors, as it creates complex and mutually interrelated challenges in a broad range of areas, including the economy, industry and culture. For example, while the ratio of the dependent population not engaged in labor rises, and other serious issues emerge including nursing care for the frail and the elderly, including those with dementia, so too are expectations rising for the creation of new employment and industries utilizing the elderly as social resources. In order to surmount these challenges, the creation of new values that are in accordance with increased personal longevity and the aging of society, and a fundamental revision of social systems are both required. Science is expected to make a due contribution in this regard.
In order to resolve the complex changes in the area of the super-aged society, it is necessary to create new learning establishments that encompass a wide range of disciplines, including medicine, nursing, science, engineering, law, economics, sociology, psychology, ethics and education. Gerontology is just such a comprehensive system of learning and it is tasked with the mission of taking a leading role in the resolution of the various challenges that face the aging society.
At The Institute of Gerontology projects are being put together using interdisciplinary team which are able to engage effectively and flexibly in research concerning the various challenges for an aging society. The very fact that Japan is the country with the greatest longevity means that we will take the lead as we aim to gather multi-disciplinary knowledge about the important emerging challenges facing the aging society, and work to promote gerontology, a discipline still in its formative stages, as well as submitting evidence-based proposals for policy and measures. In addition, at the same time as cultivating the next generation of researchers who aspire to provide solutions from a broad ranging gerontological perspective, we also seek to go beyond the boundaries of our own university, and engage in exchanges of opinions with others, through activities with other universities, private research institutions, companies, government bodies and local communities. The aging of society is a global phenomenon and the actions being taken by Japan, the population of which is the longest lived in the world, are being closely watched by the rest of the world. In addition to tackling domestic issues, we also intend to work actively to create an international network and develop global research and education activities. We ask for your support, opinions, proposals and unrestrained criticism in our endeavors.
*1 The Program of Gerontological Research was established in April 2006 as a part of the activities of the Organization for Interdisciplinary Research, thanks to donations provided by three companies: Nippon Life Insurance Company, Secom Co., Ltd., and Daiwa House Industry Co., Ltd. It engaged in activities for three years until March 2009.