I would like to express my heartfelt congratulations for this World Dementia Council (WDC) Summit being held in London today.
The COVID-19 pandemic, which began at the end of 2019, remains a threat that is preventing us from returning to our normal lives. Working with the World Health Organization (WHO) and countries around the world, the Government of Japan is making every effort to address the situation rapidly and ensure the safety of the public as soon as possible. Amidst these circumstances, population aging is steadily advancing around the world and dementia has become an urgent policy issue for many countries. As Japan is the most advanced country in terms of population aging, the Government of Japan is keenly aware of the need to continue communicating the importance of dementia countermeasures to the international community, even during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. I have the deepest respect for the WDC for its role in such efforts.
At the October 2019 G20 Health Ministers’ Meeting chaired by Japan in Okayama Prefecture, “prepare for aging populations” was included as a key agenda item for the first time. We shared our experiences as the front-runner in the field of aging with other countries at the meeting. After discussion, participants agreed to “promote age-friendly and dementia-inclusive environments” and “promote research and development for healthy ageing including for risk reduction, early detection, diagnosis, and treatment for dementia” in the “Okayama Declaration of the G20 Health Ministers” adopted after the meeting. Each country also pledged to share their experiences and initiatives with the international community and to promote efforts to “build communities conducive to active and healthy ageing.”
Following the “Five-Year Plan for the Promotion of Dementia Measures” (the “Orange Plan”) in 2012 and the “Comprehensive Strategy for the Promotion of Dementia Measures” (the “New Orange Plan”) in 2015, on June 18, 2019, the Government of Japan enacted its third national strategy for dementia, the “National Framework for Promotion of Dementia Policies.” Over a target period lasting until 2025, that Framework outlines the Government’s unified approach to promoting initiatives with the goal of building a society where people with dementia can live with hope in their everyday lives. While emphasizing the perspectives of people with dementia and their families, it aims to achieve that goal by delaying the onset age of dementia while promoting measures for inclusion and risk reduction.
Based on a shared recognition that the various issues related to dementia require a unified response from all of society, we also established the Japan Public-Private Council on Dementia in April 2019. This was not the sole effort of the Government of Japan; it was in collaboration with private organizations such as economic organizations, health and welfare organizations, local governments, and academic societies. Aiming to achieve an inclusive society, the Council is engaged in joint efforts which are based on the opinions of people living with dementia and their families and involve private businesses, academia, and civil society organizations. Through this initiative and similar efforts, our goal is to share our experiences and best practices with the international community to enable better living with dementia and to help build a society where people living with dementia are not perceived as the recipients of unilateral support, but where the wishes of people living with dementia are respected and where they can continue to living true to themselves in familiar, comfortable environments as long as possible.
While pursuing that vision, I would like to maintain close collaboration with various international organizations including the WDC. Finally, please let me express my sincere wishes for a successful meeting today and for everyone’s continued good health and development.
Shigeyuki Gotoh is the Minister of Health, Labour, and Welfare of Japan