(From left to right) Jane Hart, Shogo Kudo, Yoshitaka Kumagai, Brian Wilson, Janet Dwyer, Yoshitaka Ohara, and John Powell

The CCRI was delighted to receive three visitors from Japan this week.

Dr Shogo Kudo, Yoshitaka Ohara and Professor Yoshitaka Kumagai, from the AkitaAgeLab in Japan, visited on 8th March and gave a short presentation to demonstrate a project which is addressing ageing society challenges in rural Japan.

The three visitors are core members of AkitaAgeLab, established in 2016 and based in the Akita Prefecture in the northern part of Japan.  The Lab aims to create community designs for the ageing society through social experiments and through collaboration with social entrepreneurs and local government.

They are currently visiting the UK, looking for foreign partners to explore the rural challenges of ageing. Their presentation focused on the rapidly ageing populations in Japan and suggested that an approach which focused on new social design was important. They perceive that the challenge of an ageing society is not limited to the well-being of older residents. Instead, it is more about fostering social transitions to a more inclusive society in which intergenerational relationship is ensured.

The presentation also highlighted a range of associated issues from abandonment of farm land and changing landscapes to the loss of cultural traditions.  Brian Wilson and Dr Jane Hart of the Rural Services Network were also present at the meeting and gave a presentation on some of their work for Rural England on the ‘vulnerability of older people in rural areas in England, based on analysis of recent statistical data.

The CCRI has conducted research on ageing populations.  Between 2009 and 2012, the CCRI worked with the University of Plymouth, Bournemouth University, University of the West of England, Cardiff University and Swansea University to investigate how older people living in rural South West England and Wales interact with their local community, and what social and economic issues are important to them. The project was entitled ‘Grey and Pleasant Land’.

Drs. John Powell, Dan Keech and Matt Reed are currently working on a project to explore potential interventions that could be applied to deal with rural poverty problems in rural Wales, where there are significant numbers of older people living in fuel poverty and impacted by cutbacks in transport and other services. The project is commissioned by the Public Policy Institute for Wales (PPIW) and called ‘What works in Tackling Rural Poverty – An evidence review of rural poverty interventions’.

Dr Kudo is a project-based Researcher in the Graduate Program in Sustainability Science at the University of Tokyo Website. He has been conducting research in rural areas of Akita prefecture, Japan, with a focus on the impact of population ageing and depopulation to rural livelihoods and local environment at the community scale.

Professor Kumagai is the Director of Institute of Asian Studies and Regional Collaboration Website at Akita International University.

Mr Ohara is the co-founder of HABATAKU.Inc

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