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Singapore handling the ageing population challenge better than Japan: Ageing expert
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Singapore handling the ageing population challenge better than Japan: Ageing expert

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Singapore and Japan have the oldest populations in the world, and both face similar challenges in managing the issue.

But if you ask ageing expert Professor Hiroko Akiyama, Singapore is doing a much better job at tackling the problem.

For one thing, Singapore had a head-start in planning for an ageing population. On this front, Singapore has been pushing hard to keep seniors active and engaged in their community. The Action Plan for Successful Ageing has outlined key initiatives that is aimed at keeping seniors meaningfully engaged across a range of activities, from volunteer work, working longer and returning to school to pick up new skills.

The social psychologist from the Institute of Gerontology at University of Tokyo says another reason is that Singapore has a more open approach to immigration.

For one thing, the ageing population means that the workforce is gradually shrinking. Allowing for foreigners to take up the jobs that are not being filled will continue to sustain the economy. At the same time, foreign talent also injects new sources of innovation and entrepreneurship into the economy.

“I think Singapore is doing an amazing job of attracting highly-skilled and highly talented foreign labour which is not just a boon for the economy but for the population as well especially with the inter-marriages and integration of migrants into the country,” she says.

Japan, on the other hand, has a much more restrictive policy towards foreigners. It is difficult for a foreigner to work in Japan, and if they do get a job, it tends to be on a limited basis, she says.

This in turn will have major implications on the Japanese economy.

“When it comes to integrating foreigners into the country, Japan is still quite a far way off from Singapore. Naturally, this is further adding pressure onto its already rapidly declining population,” says Prof Hiroko.

“I think Singapore is generally an elderly-friendly nation. They’re trying, which is the most important thing.”


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