The National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, set up by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, is a national institution that conducts policy research. The institute was established in 1996 through the integration of the Institute of Population Problems under the Ministry of Health and Welfare, and the Social Development Research Institute.
Our mission is to conduct policy research on social security and population issues. Such research represents issues of critical importance and urgency not only to Japan but also to the world.
Unlike the economic growth period in the past, Japan is faced with the state that promises little hope for the future under the economic difficulties that continue to prevail. Although falling birthrates and an aging population are not negative social phenomena per se, the public opinion appears to suggest that these phenomena in themselves are jeopardizing the future of Japan.
Of course, the rise in pension, medical and nursing care expenses and the increased burden that accompany the aging society are unavoidable issues that must be addressed. However, we intent to promote research that seeks to solve these problems from a broader perspective. Additionally, active labor market policy that encourages people of all types of characteristics to engage in work, regardless of age, gender, or whether they are disabled, is also a crucial topic in the current social security research.
Strong expectations toward the institute in accurately projecting population and household trends have also been expressed by various sectors. As we are to provide data that form the basis for various policies, we would like to reiterate our strong commitment to the work that has been entrusted to us.
There is no shortage of issues associated with population and social security at the global level as well. As the entire population in Asia ages, Japan has become a center of attention as the forerunner of a super-aging society. Child poverty is a serious problem in Japan but the issue is even more serious in some other countries. In Europe, where a considerable portion of its population is the elderly, the issue of how to balance economic revitalization and the aging society is a major concern. In the U.S., the majority of today’s retired generation seems to have difficulties in leading economically stable life.
Another important mission of the institute is to share with other countries about the challenges we are facing and how we seek to solve these problems, with an eye on the trends of population and social security at the global level. Needless to say, such challenges must not merely end with the provision of information but be based on a deeper understanding. To this end, it is also my responsibility to encourage researchers at the institute to make a concerted effort to promote exchanges with researchers in the various fields, and to keep developing the quality of the research.
Shuzo NISHIMURA, Ph.D.