MASUE KATAYAMA

COUNTRY

Japan

ORGANIZATION

Social Welfare Corporation Shinkou Fukushikai

CAUSE

Elderly

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.

BRIEF FACTS


MASUE KATAYAMA

1940

Born in Osaka to Japanese parents, Yoshifumi and Masae, and grew up during the 2nd World War

1953

Started volunteering with orphans in post-war Japan 

1976

Founded a nursery school

1986

Converted 15 unused bachelor dormitories into a nursing home

1998

Adopted a quality assessment tool and attained ISO 9001 certification for her nursing homes  

2001

Sold the 16 homes to Benessee Corporation

2010

Set up Shinkou Fukushikai to reverse negative opinions of nursing homes

2011

Expanded operations totaling 39 elderly care centers by 2015

 

AWARDS & RECOGNITION

1996

Kanagawa Business Audition Special Prize

2012

Ashoka Fellow

2014

Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award 

Funai Soken Great Company Grand Prize

 

END NOTES

  1. Bloomberg, “Most Rapidly Aging: Countries,” http://www.bloomberg. com/visual-data/best-and-worst//most-rapidly-aging-countries.
  1. Masue Katayama is more widely known by her first name, hence her request that the authors use “Masue” throughout the chapter.