Challenges and Issues Under Long-Term Care Insurance for the Elderly in Japan
Japan is the most rapidly aging society in the world. In October 1999, the number of those aged 65 and over reached 21.2 million, making up 16.7%, a 0.5% increase from the previous year, of the whole population. The percentage of the population over age 65 is projected to be 26.2% in 2020, roughly comparable to a U.S. forecast fOT the same age group (Anderson & Hussey, 2000; Office of the Prime Minister, 2000). By 2015, one-fourth of Japan's population will be over age 65 (Crowell & Murakami, 1998). This trend is expected to continue for another century and also implies an increase of the elderly in need of long-term care due to physical and/or mental disabilities. The number of elderly needing long-term care is expected to increase from 2.8 million in 2000 to 5.2 million in 2025 (Usui & Palley, 1997). The average life expectancy in 1999 was 83.9 years for women and 77.1 years for men (Health and Welfare Statistics Association (HWSA), 2000), both the highest life expectancy in the world. The percentage of the population age 80 and older will grow more rapidly in Japan (from 3.7 % in 2000 to 7.5% in 2020, a 107% increase), whileitwillgrowfrom 3.3% in 2000to 3.7% in 2020 in the UnitedStates.