How should we tackle the social issues that arise in the course of demographic change?

CHALLENGE

Japan is the most rapidly ageing country in the world, which means that it is the most advanced case study in an international society whose demographic structure is changing. Some social issues have already become apparent, while there are other areas in which it remains unclear what issues will arise in the future. This situation is both characteristic of and the most problematic aspect of societies undergoing demographic change. The participants in this workshop were asked to discover for themselves the social issues that will arise as the world undergoes ever greater demographic change, think of solutions, and put these into practice.

PURPOSES

The aim of this workshop was for the participants to cross the boundaries between countries, cultures, and academic fields, contributing their knowledge and ideas in an environment with diverse values, and to be prompted by stimuli from the actual situations in which the issues are arising, coming up with creative solutions to the social issues caused by demographic change and putting these ideas into practice. This project also aims to construct an environment which produces future leaders who can understand and utilize the latest ideas from the humanities and the sciences in order to bring about systemic reform for a better society and can act as hubs for intellectual exchange.

OVERVIEW

Dawn Reeves of “facilitate this!” in the UK was invited to act as facilitator of a two-week workshop. The first week was used to share the direction of the RENKEI workshop with all the participants, focusing on ice-breakers, team building, and social visits. The second week centred on discussions within the teams and mini-lectures from various specialists in order for each team to make its project a reality. On the final day, a symposium was held at Osaka Innovation Hub (OIH) in the centre of Osaka, during which each team presented its initiative to 81 participants from industry, government, academia, and the public.

OUTCOMES

This workshop welcomed 15 participants from the Japanese and British RENKEI member institutions. 10 of the participants had also taken part in last year’s workshop, while 5 were participating for the first time this year.

In addition to the two teams active since last year, Renaissance Home, a project to tackle the phenomenon of vacant houses and put them to use, and Gengoal, which aims to bring about language acquisition and social inclusion for isolated groups such as the elderly and foreigners through the development of an app, the new participants formed the COMSHIKA team, which aimed to solve the regional issues faced by Shikanoshima, an island in Fukuoka Prefecture. Each of the three teams worked on their projects through the workshop.

The workshop participants came from six different national backgrounds, giving the workshop true linguistic and cultural diversity.

Each of the three teams is continuing with activities to make its project a reality, and there are firm expectations that they will each produce concrete results to tackle the social issues on which they are working.

COORDINATING UNIVERSITIES

  • Osaka University
  • University College London (UCL)

ENQUIRIES

renkei@britishcouncil.or.jp

External links