[Report] Press Tour “Challenging Aging Society! Regional City Toyama’s Approach” (Feb. 2014)
A press tour was conducted to Toyama City about how they are facing an aging society, hosted by Toyama City and Toyama Television Broadcasting Co., Ltd with FPCJ’s cooperation in planning and operation. This tour had 11 journalists from China, Taiwan, Russia, Denmark, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, France and the US. (Click here for more details on the tour)
On the first day of the tour, the reporters learned about a four-wheel walking aid developed to make walking around town more convenient for aged people. After listening to an explanation of how the walker combines design and functionality in a way unlike those before it, the reporters joined in a walking tour held in the shopping district of Toyama City. In interviews with aged people who were using the walking aid while shopping, many mentioned that “The walker has increased the area I am active in” and “I can carry a lot of things at once, making it easier to buy groceries or take out the garbage”.
Next the group visited the Kadokawa Care Prevention Center, which provides various exercise therapy programs to meet the different capabilities and desires of the elderly. Approaches to use appropriate exercise therapy to decrease the number of elderly who are bedridden or require care were discussed.
The reporters then took the Centram, a next-generation tram that runs in the city, and went to the hotel where Toyama City Mayor Masashi Mori was to give a presentation. He discussed the compact city plan of Toyama City, with its goal of stimulating the city center through upgrading public transportation to meet the challenges of an aging and declining population and of sustainable development. The reporters asked questions about what effects the Hokuriku Shinkansen line planned to open in 2015 would have on the city, and what motivated him to work to make a compact city.
On the second day of the tour, participants visited the Tateyama Kagaku Group that provides the “Elderly Mimamori (Watching Over) Service” and Takeoka Mini Car Co., Ltd. which makes a welfare-purpose electric mini-car.
The Mimamori Service lets family who live separately check on the safety of elderly living alone. The group saw the sensor that monitors people moving in a room, and visited the call center that responds quickly in emergencies. Reporters from Denmark and Germany, where there are many elderly people living alone, said “This service that lets you check on your parents living separately is very Japanese and revolutionary” and “I was surprised to hear that local governments are providing subsidies for the Mimamori Service”.
President Eiichi Takeoka started developing this welfare-purpose car when a friend asked “Can you make a car I can ride in without leaving my wheelchair?” Reporters took pictures of and notes on a wide variety of electric mini cars that the elderly can safely drive, including the Friendly-Eco that can be entered in a wheelchair.
The tour ended with a visit to Toyama Glass Studio, where participants got to try glass art, which Toyama city is putting effort into promoting. The tour coincided with Valentine’s Day, and so everyone made very heartfelt pieces.