Japan is a nation facing the challenge of an ageing population and the UK is similarly facing increasing numbers of older people in its own population. Being able to travel and use transport systems is to be able to live a full and healthy life but for many older and disabled people this is very difficult.
This week, the Science and Innovation team at British Embassy brought a group of UK researchers, designers and transport experts to meet with counterparts in Japan. Led by Professor Nick Tyler from University College London, the group discussed the differences in approach to ensuring accessible or ‘barrier-free’ transport systems in the two countries and explored how to design transport systems that can meet current and future societal needs.
The visit is helping to identify areas where international collaboration can support maintaining mobility for an ageing population. Addressing this challenge will need work across different disciplines: from social research to understand how people travelling perceive and interact with the urban environment, to engineering and technology development such as mobility assistance devices.
Staying healthy for longer is possible and in Japan, people aged 70 to 74 years old are just as active as teenagers aged 15-19 years old. There are economic and societal opportunities from taking a fresh look at designing transport for an ageing society. Older people may invest in travelling for pleasure, or may travel to volunteer or to help care for grandchildren.
The visit concludes with a public seminar held at British Embassy Tokyo on Friday 1 November, entitled ‘Ageing is Great – How mobility and environment can make it better.’