Long-Term Care Insurance in Japan: Understanding the Ideas behind Its Design

Organization(s): JICA
Author: Shuzo Tsutsumi
Regions: Asia
Country: Japan
Year: 2014
PDF of Resource

In April 2000, the Japanese government launched its fifth social insurance scheme, the Long-term Care Insurance, to respond to the increasing demand for long-term care. Since then, the Long-term Care Insurance has been established in Japanese society as an essential system for people’s lives, while it has various challenges.

In many cases, as it happened in Japan, when a country enters its economic growth stage, and as people’s living standards and health standards improve, the average life expectancy increases and the number of elderly persons with long-term care needs increases. At the same time, family’s capabilities to provide long-term care for their elderly members decline as a consequence of urbanization and the decreasing size of families. Therefore, it would be inevitable that many developing countries, especially Southeast Asian countries as their economies grow, will face social problems of long-term care for their greying population, although the seriousness of the problem may vary depending on each country’s context.

It is true that the Japanese experience may not be directly applied to other countries, because social security schemes as well as socio-economic, historic and cultural conditions, which support the social security schemes, vary across countries. However, whatever the country’s condition might be, if they are to introduce a social insurance in order to solve the problem of a growing demand for old people’s long-term care, they may find the Japanese experience of establishing a long-term care insurance and the ideas behind the system design somewhat useful.

This paper aims to explain the basic ideas behind the design of the Japanese Long-term Care Insurance, while reviewing the process for establishing the scheme.

Related Principles

Equality and Non-discrimination

Non-discrimination and equality are core elements of the international human rights normative framework. Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states that every human being is entitled to all rights and freedoms “without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, […]

Social Protection and Human Rights