The Transcultural Research for a New Concept of "Dignity of the Elderly" in Respect of the Present Condition of the Social Care for the Elderly (Including Persons with Dementia) and for a New Model of the Welfare Society
加藤 泰史 Yasushi Kato
一橋大学大学院社会学研究科 Graduate School of Social Sciences, Hitotsubashi University
As it is clear from the first article of the Japanese "Care Insurance Law (1997)", the concept of dignity plays a central role within the social insurance systems of Japan. But the concept of dignity in Japan is not clearly determined, and also in the West this concept will be discussed again and reexamined deeply in recent years. Especially the care insurance system of Japan would come to a crisis as a whole in such a situation and become unstable and unsustainable in some cases. At the present time the shrinking of the Japanese society already began because of the declining birthrate and high aging. Further great many baby boomers, that are characterized by a high awareness of their pluralistic values and their own rights, become high aging from now in the long run and the elderly affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake have been placed in a very difficult condition now. If one considers such social problems seriously, so the social insurance system of Japan should be reformed deeply. Historically this system was introduced into Japan following the German concept of the social insurance system. We will take this historical fact into well account in our research project and then promote our research in cooperation with a German research group from the transcultural perspective. Hence our research theme is defined as the following: in the first place we determine the new and flexible concept of "dignity of the elderly (including persons with dementia)" definitely, which is well adaptable to the specific conditions of the elderly and also is best based on the pluralistic concept of values on an analysis and comparison of these present conditions in Japan and Germany from the transcultural perspective. And then we clarify a new model of the social care system as a part of the welfare society, which enables their own dignified lives of the elderly (including persons with dementia) with regional and cultural characteristics on the basis of a new model of consensus corresponding to the diverse needs of the elderly.