Coping with the problems and opportunities presented by an ageing society represents a multiple challenge for policy-makers. The challenge posed by ageing in East and South East Asia is both multidimensional and urgent. To understand both the nature of the problems posed in the region by ageing populations and the way the different societies have responded to them, it is important to pinpoint some essential and distinguishing aspects. Ageing is being accompanied by significant and highly relevant social changes. Retirement ages are being raised in many countries. Realistic retirement ages need to be established, before unrealistic expectations solidify into notions of rights. Enormous policy-making energy has been devoted to trying to get the right scheme for the long term – in spite of all the evidence from the West that few pension schemes turn out to be durable, however carefully they are planned.