Supporting Japan's super-aged society

Over the past 30 years, Chugai, a member of the Roche Group, has donated more than 240 specially equipped vehicles to organisations that transport senior citizens and disabled people between their homes and medical and social welfare facilities.


The proportion of people aged over 60 years is growing faster than any other age group in almost every country. The most remarkable increases are in Japan. By 2050 more than a third of persons aged 60 or over will be at least 80 years old (World Health Statistics 2014). With a large proportion of its population already over 65, Japan is often referred to as a super-aged society.

The ageing of Japan’s and the world's population is an indicator of improving health and declining fertility rates. The benefits come with healthcare challenges, however. The number of people requiring daily nursing care is on the rise. Some of these services are available at home, helping the elderly and disabled lead more self-reliant lives in their own, familiar environment. But many medical and social welfare services are only available at specialised facilities. For older people and those with impaired mobility, moving between their homes and these facilities can be a difficult or impossible.

What we’re doing

Chugai, Roche’s Japanese affiliate, actively supports community-based programmes in the fields of healthcare and welfare throughout Japan. As part of this commitment, Chugai donates specially equipped para-transit vehicles to national welfare organisations that transport senior citizens and disabled people between their homes and medical and social welfare facilities.

The wagon-type vans have capacity for a driver and passenger up front. In the rear, there is space for up to four wheelchair passengers, seating for up to five caregivers and room for a stretcher, if needed. A built-in lift allows easy loading and unloading of wheelchair passengers.

Chugai further customises the vehicles for functionality and safety, adding features such as a back-up camera, fog lamps and handrails.

Recipients for the vehicles are selected from all prefectures in Japan based on requests from social welfare councils. To ensure neutrality and transparency, selections are made by the Japan National Council of Social Welfare and the Central Community Chest of Japan.

We have assisted in this programme since it began, but we feel that the need for these vehicles will increase in regions with ageing populations and declining birth rates” said Kenji Yamazaki, Secretary, Elderly and Disabled Welfare Dept., Japan National Council of Social Welfare. “Continuing this programme is very important for the social participation of the elderly and disabled.”

Our impact

Since starting the programme in 1985 as part of its 60th anniversary, Chugai has donated  243 vehicles, including five in 2016.

Commenting on the programme, Masaharu Sato, Chairman, Hasuda City Council of Social Welfare, said: “We received a welfare vehicle from Chugai in 2005 and loan it to members on request. Since there is a large hospital nearby, it is often used for shopping trips or other excursions by people who are hospitalised or attending the attached training centre. Users have told us that looking at the town through the vehicle window and having contact with the community gives them joy and something to live for.”

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Tags: Access to healthcare, Sustainability, Philanthropy