TOP > Speech Text

Speech Text

Keynote Address at The International Conference on Cognitive Decline and its Economic Consequences

Yasuhisa Shiozaki
Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan
Keio University, Tokyo
October 5, 2015

Distinguished guests, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, good morning.

First, I would like to appreciate Professor Atsushi Seike, President of Keio University, and Dr. Derek Yach, Chair of the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Ageing, for organizing this international conference focusing on "cognitive decline and its economic consequences." I would also like to thank the organizer for bringing together so many participants representing medicine, public health, economics, business and media, in order to discuss the broader issues caused by cognitive decline in the ageing society.

Cognitive decline, including dementia, gives a great impact on the society. Therefore we must tackle these issues at the global, national and community levels. Today, as the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan, I would like to start my remarks with Japan's role and responsibility in global health in ageing society.

This January, I participated in the World Economic Forum Annual meeting in Davos, and it impressed me that many global leaders on health showed strong interests in the way Japan is tackling and will tackle the challenges of ageing society. They are watching closely how Japan could maintain its healthcare system sustainable, and still continue to promote Universal Health Coverage or UHC in the future , with aging factor properly built in and well-addressed.

UHC ensures all people have access to affordable basic health services. Japan has placed it at the center of our strategy for global health diplomacy. In this context, Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, reaffirmed Japan's unchanging commitment to UHC at the UN General Assembly in New York last week.

After participating in the Davos meeting, I came to realize that Japan needed to develop a forward-looking and long-term healthcare vision towards the sustainable system. I believe that what other countries see in Japan can offer lessons – and hope – for the future of health in their own societies.

That is exactly the reason why I established the Health Care 2035 Advisory Panel at our Ministry last February. This June, the panel finalized its report, Japan Vision: Health Care 2035.

This report recommended a move beyond mere system maintenance through gradual and incremental changes. It recommended integrating health care into social and community frameworks nationwide. We will need to consider lifestyles and behaviors; work environments; housing and communities; economies; and the values of the people the health care system is built to serve. The health care system of the next 20 years requires a paradigm shift that transforms its focus from clinical and curative into the multi-disciplinary and life-supporting health care system we envision.

As the fastest ageing country, Japan is ready to contribute to overcome the healthcare challenges of ageing societies. I strongly believe that by showing viable solution to establish sustainable system even in an ageing society, Japan is fully committed to promote not only our society's health but also global health as a whole. As the G7 Chair which will host the G7 Ise-Shima Summit and the G7 Kobe Health Ministers' Meeting next year, Japan continues to tackle the global ageing issue.

The world has become more interconnected and interdependent and seen a health transition from communicable to non-communicable disease at a pace faster than we expected. Likewise, cognitive decline including dementia is not only an issue in developed countries, but is becoming a major global health challenge. That is exactly why we are here today.

In 2015, 47 million people worldwide are living with dementia. And each year, approximately 10 million newly develop dementia. This figure will almost double every 20 years primarily in low- and middle- income countries. The total estimated worldwide cost of dementia in 2015 is more than 800 billion US dollars, and will become 2 trillion by 2030.

In Japan, one-seventh of those aged 65 and over, 4.6 million people, have dementia. This figure is expected to increase to one in five, around 7 million, in 2025. Dr. Mitsuhiro Sado of Keio University estimated that the social costs of dementia will increase from approximately 120 billion US dollars in 2014 to more than 160 billion US dollars in 2025.

Strong political leadership is critical in order to tackle the challenges of dementia. Last November, at the Global Legacy Event in Tokyo, our Prime Minister declared that Japan would formulate a national strategy with a new action plan for dementia. In January this year, we launched "The Comprehensive Strategy to Accelerate Dementia Measures" or the "New Orange Plan" as it is called.

It is a landmark initiative that aims to challenge the status quo and shift the mindset of the society to address dementia. It consists of a series of multi-sectorial and multi-disciplinary actions formulated by our Ministry in collaboration with 11 other ministries and government agencies. What is urgently needed is a social system to support people with dementia, not just a narrowly defined health system.

Cognitive decline, including dementia, could cost to the economic growth by taxing fiscal burden and impairing workforce. However, if we add some value to the various services for cognitive decline by taking advantage of the technology and innovation, new industries could emerge and thus generate positive economic impact. For example, from the viewpoint of financial services industries, growing number of aged people with cognitive declines might call for new type of financial services in terms of both retail services and product development including banking, securities, and insurance businesses.

To discuss today's theme of cognitive decline and its economic impact on the society, I believe that Keio University is the best place to host this conference. This is not only because Keio University has a century and a half-long history of highest-quality education and research in medicine and economics, but it has a unique spirit.

Yukichi Fukuzawa, Founder of Keio University, once said, "Heaven does not create one man above or below another man".

This is the time when the world needs strong ideas that can actually build cohesiveness, and unite rather than divide. It is you who are sitting in the room today and your collaboration that will make a breakthrough for this challenge. And I, as an elected legislator and the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare, will continue to make every effort to support such an exertion to tackle ageing.

I look forward to the debates over the next two days with great anticipation, and wish this conference a great success.

Thank you.


Future Global Governance for Health
Speech by Yasuhisa Shiozaki
Member, House of Representatives, Japan
At the Dinner Reception for IACG:
Future Global Governance for Health
April 25, 2018
Leeds Castle, United Kingdom
Japan's Three Challenges; Labor, Healthcare and Governance
Speech by Yasuhisa Shiozaki
Former Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare
Member of the House of Representatives, Japan
Center on Japanese Economy and Business
Columbia University, February 27, 2018
Program on Public Pension and Sovereign Funds 2nd Annual Conference, Columbia University
Keynote Speech by Yasuhisa Shiozaki
Former Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare
Member of House of Representatives, Japan
February 26, 2018
Trilateral Commission Asia Pacific Group, Tokyo Regional Meeting, Session 7: Impact of Demographic Changes Urbanization, Aging and Employment
Speech by Yasuhisa Shiozaki Member, House of Representatives, Japan
November 26, 2017
Tokyo, Japan
ASEAN-Japan Health Ministers' Meeting: Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and Population Ageing Closing remarks
Speech by Yasuhisa Shiozaki, the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare, Japan
July 15, 2017
Tokyo, Japan