The world is facing an aging crisis, but no country is aging faster than Japan.1 With more than 30 percent of its population above 65, it is literally the oldest country in the world. The land of the rising sun is facing one of its greatest challenges—the unprecedented needs of its sunset population.
Enter Masue Katayama, champion for the elderly. Over the past three decades, she has been serving the nursing needs of Japan’s elderly. In the early 1980s, there was a sharp dichotomy in the nursing service offerings for the elderly: either bare basic public nursing homes, or extravagant and luxurious elderly homes. There was no middle ground. Masue2 spotted this gap and began building comfortable yet affordable nursing home options for the middle-class elderly.
Her efforts have changed Japan’s nursing home landscape by providing new eldercare services to meet a growing need. The establishments she builds feel more like homes than eldercare institutions. Her life’s work centers on creating spaces where the elderly can live with dignity and enjoy the last chapter of their lives peacefully.