2023 US-Japan Healthy and Resilient Aging Exchange

May 21–27, 2023
Tokyo and Kanagawa Prefecture

JCIE conducted a one-week study tour in Japan as part of its new program on healthy aging, focusing on US-Japan collaboration and information-sharing on how each country is addressing common issues facing aging societies.

Working with experts from AARP, JCIE selected the city of Columbus, Ohio—a leader in the development of age-friendly services for their city—to be the first US community to participate. The delegation’s five participants represented experts from the public sector, academia, and nonprofits who have demonstrated leadership in the Columbus community on issues related to healthy aging and the provision of services for older residents. The exchange provides a mutual learning opportunity focused on innovative initiatives to create age-friendly environments at the regional and community levels.

Tokyo Program

The participants began in Tokyo, getting an overview of aging-related issues and policies. While there, they engaged in discussions with JCIE’s in-house experts to gain an understanding of the basics of Japan’s civil society and demographic changes and the implications with regard to immigration, housing, and education. They also were briefed by an expert from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare and the National Institute of Public Health, who explained the development of Japan’s long-term care system, and they participated in a roundtable with the University of Tokyo’s Institute of Gerontology.

They then visited the Tokyo Rinkai Disaster Prevention Park to learn how Japan prepares for disasters and what the implications are for older residents. And they also visited a long-term care facility run by Silverwood, a company that was recognized by JCIE’s Healthy Aging Prize for Asian Innovation (HAPI). The group had a hands-on experience with Silverwood’s VR Dementia, a virtual reality device designed to help people better understand the symptoms of dementia.

Kanagawa Prefecture Program


Kanagawa Prefecture has the highest concentration of cities in Japan that have joined the World Health Organization’s “age-friendly city network.” The delegation first met with Governor Yuji Kuroiwa to hear his views on promoting healthy aging, followed by a dialogue with prefectural officials that allowed participants to compare notes on what has been most effective in their communities.

While in Yokohama, they visited the Sasayama Prefectural Housing Complex, an example of how Urban Renaissance (UR) housing is being used to create age-friendly affordable housing options for older people. 


Next, the group traveled to Fujisawa, where they held discussions with city officials.  They also met with representatives from the Helte Company, which has created an online platform to connect older people in Japan with people around the world who want to study the Japanese language. In addition, they visited the Shonan Robo Care Center/Shonan Robo Terrace to learn how Japan is using robotic assistive devices to improve the mobility and bodily functions of older people and people with disabilities and to provide services and companionship for older people. 


In Kamakura, the participants met Prof. Hiroko Akiyama, the founder of the Kamakura Living Lab, which brings together older people in the community with researchers, academics, and private industry to develop innovative projects that can meet the needs of people in the community. She introduced the group to the Imaizumi Care Center Program for People with Dementia to hear about the work they are doing.

The group also paid a visit to the Kotoku-in Buddhist temple, site of the Great Buddha, where they learned about the region’s history and the role of religion in Japanese society.


The final site visits took place in the city of Miura. Participants met with local officials to hear about their age-friendly policies and learned about local citizen-led projects that seek to utilize the unique knowledge that older people have about their community and share it with others.


LOURDES BARROSO de PADILLA, Member, City Council of Columbus, Ohio

HOLLY DABELKO-SCHOENY, Director of Research, Age-Friendly Innovation Center at Ohio State University

MATTHEW MARTIN, Director of Community Research, The Columbus Foundation

MARISA SHELDON, Director, Age-Friendly Innovation Center at Ohio State University

KATIE WHITE, Agency Director, Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging

This program was made possible through a generous grant from the Japan Foundation,
and with the advice and encouragement of AARP.