[ Nippon Keidanren ] [ Journal ]
Messages from "Economic Trend", May 2004

Toward the Realization of a Vibrant Aging Society

Norio Wada
Vice Chairman, Nippon Keidanren
President and CEO, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation

Japan is currently facing an unavoidable social issue in which society is rapidly aging, the number of children is falling, and the attendant costs are rising. The Japanese population is expected to peak in 2006 and to start declining after that, leading to fears that the smaller number of people in their productive years will result in a shortage of labor and lower consumption.

To ensure sustainable growth of the Japanese economy and society, this issue must be faced head on and considerable effort must be expended to solve it. The use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is considered to be one of the most effective approaches in solving this problem.

If video and other multipoint collaboration utilizing high-speed, high-capacity broadband can easily be used in the area of production, so-called "teleworking" can be promoted so that people such as the elderly or those under home-based care who cannot leave home may easily work from home or participate in social activities under their existing conditions. This means that ICT can be used to identify potential sources of labor, solve the mismatch between labor and hiring that are unevenly distributed in outlying regions, and thereby supplement the shortage of labor in the aging society of fewer children.

The realization of a high-definition video communications environment will also allow specialists at a care center to administer remote daily health checks for the elderly receiving home-based care. Not only will this system ease the burden of care on families, it will also reduce the social cost in providing this care.

In the area of consumption, video communications will enable people to participate in lifelong learning programs using distance education or form communities over a network centered on common interests or hobbies. This revitalization of cultural and other activities in an aging society will also contribute to growth in new demand for content.

To enable broadband services to play a role in solving these sorts of issues, NTT is engaged in the construction of a next-generation network called RENA (Resonant Communication Network Architecture) based on optical technology. NTT hopes that RENA will contribute to the realization of an aging society that is active in both production and consumption.

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