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Making progress in the Japanese-Swedish research project

The new free-trade treaty between the European Union and Japan is expected to have a great positive impact on the trade and cooperation between the two signing parties. But Rumiko Tsuchiya-Ito and Björn Slaug are two steps ahead. Their collaboration is part of the MIRAI, an ongoing research exchange project between Japan and Sweden, where researchers from the two countries are trying to learn more about important aspects of housing and health amongst the older part of the population, through cooperation and comparative studies.

Picture of Björn Slaug & Rumiko Tsuchiya-Ito
Björn Slaug & Rumiko Tsuchiya-Ito

Rumiko Tsuchiya-Ito, a trained physiotherapist and postdoctoral fellow at the Dia Foundation for Research on Ageing Societies, Tokyo, has come to Lund to consult with her scientific advisors and academic colleagues. Together with associate researcher Björn Slaug and professor Susanne Iwarsson at CASE, Lund University, she is preparing for the next step in her ongoing research project; the introduction of a new instrument used in the assessment of housing accessibility, the Housing Enabler, in Japan. Already finished is the first translation of the instrument into Japanese. At hand is adapting it to a new cultural context and preparing for an upcoming expert review in Japan.

-This is a new perspective in Japan. We are bringing in a public health and social science perspective with a special focus on how the physical housing environment may affect the health and well-being of older residents. We hope to be able to give important contributions to ageing research and the policy making process regarding housing and care for the elderly in Japan, says Rumiko Tsuchiya-Ito. 

Rumiko Tsuchiya-Ito writes "super-aged" in Japanese Sign Language
Rumiko Tsuchiya-Ito has written "super-aged" in Japanese Sign Language

-Our goal is to be able to use the instrument to carry out cross-national comparative studies and gain momentum in the knowledge acquisition. According to the UN ‘s definition, Japan is one of the first super-aged countries in the world, more than 20 percent of the population is 65 years of age or older. Japan became a super-aged country in 2005, so much is to be gained by learning from the Japanese experience, says Björn Slaug.

During her stay in Lund, Rumiko Tsuchiya-Ito, Susanne Iwarsson and Björn Slaug also revised a manuscript for a new article titled “The Physical Housing Environment and Subjective Well-Being Among Older People Using Long-Term Care Services in Japan” recently published in the Journal of Housing for the Elderly.

For the first part of her research project, Rumiko Tsuchiya-Ito was awarded the 27th Pfizer Health Research Foundation International Collaborative Research Grant. Her current three-year project has been made possible by a grant awarded by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Sciences and the support and partnership with Waseda University, Japan.

Rumiko Tsuchiya-Ito’s and Björn Slaug’s research collaboration is part of the MIRAI project, an ongoing collaboration between 15 Swedish and Japanese Universities including three themes, one of which is aging. Lund University is the coordinator of the Swedish part.  

Link: Learn more about MIRAI, the Japanese-Swedish research collaboration project
Link: Learn more about the Housing Enabler assessment tool 
Link: Learn more about Rumiko Tsuchiya-Ito's research at the Dia Foundation
Link to the new article by Rumiko Tsuchiya-Ito, Björn Slaug and Tomoaki Ishibashi, published in the Journal of Housing for the Elderly:
“The Physical Housing Environment and Subjective Well-Being Among Older People Using Long-Term Care Services in Japan”

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