22nd DIHAC cross-cultural exchange meeting analysis report


Assistive/Welfare technology for Age Friendly Cities (AFC) in Japan and digital innovations for sustainable productivity of workforce in Thailand

Thet Htoo Pan, Myat Yadana Kyaw, Ogawa Takeo, Attakrit Leckcivilize, Taweewat Luangwiriya, Somying Saithanu, Myo Nyein Aung, Malcolm Field

Report in Japanese  Report in Thai 

Digitally Inclusive Healthy Ageing Communities (DIHAC) is a cross-cultural study primarily based on Japan, Republic of Korea, Singapore and Thailand. In the era of rapid demographic shift and economic development, older people are often seen as a potential source of productivity. With advanced Information and Communication Technology, promoting rights of older persons through assistive welfare technology serve as an important role in creating a sustainable and inclusive community. The 22nd DIHAC meeting is honoured to address the timely matter of social and economic inclusiveness of older adults led by experts from Japan and Thailand.

The principal investigator of the DIHAC study, Dr Myo Nyein Aung, an Associate Professor at Juntendo University, welcomed the speakers, all the participants. Professor Malcolm Field, a professor at Kyorin University’s Faculty of Social Sciences and Waseda University’s Faculty of International Liberal Arts; DIHAC investigator and adviser, chaired the 22nd DIHAC meeting. Professor Field has chaired and presented at several DIHAC meetings previously. More than 50 participants including researchers in global health and public health, faculties from universities, UN agency, clinicians, government officials, community stakeholders, and graduate students from Asia, Europe and Africa attended the meeting.

Figure: Chairperson Professor Malcolm Field, speakers, international audience and DIHAC study team at the 22nd DIHAC meeting

DIHAC 22nd meeting 1st speaker summary

The first speaker of the meeting was Professor Ogawa, emeritus professor at Kyushu University and Yamaguchi University; chairperson of the Fukuoka Council for Designing Society in Aging Asia; and Founder of the Active Aging Consortium in Asia Pacific (ACAP). Professor Ogawa devoted to conduct a review for growing research gap in assistive welfare technology and authored the report. At this 22nd DIHAC meeting, he addressed the rights of older people to public access to assistive welfare technologies in Japan, based on this report published by the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Global Ageing Centre. First, he gave an explanation of the aging-related national health, social and long-term care policies implemented throughout the pre-ageing, and ageing society of Japan. Along with national policies and regulations, assistive technologies began to be innovated and used across Japan. The early 2000s brought about a wave, introducing technologies like the Smart Phone, Therapy Robot “PARO”, Rehabilitation Robot “COGY”, and Powered Suit “HAL”. The speaker took the example of the Fukuoka 100 project [1] to divulge how Japan is implementing the concept of age-friendly cities (AFC) in the digital age. The interaction of UN principles of Older Persons and the digitalization process can be facilitated by assistive/welfare technology, promoting the rights of older people. Digital technology is integrated into various programs in each domain of AFC in the Fukuoka city, such as cashless economy, MaaS (Mobility as a service), innovations in Smart Care, and Care robots. Another project of “The Fukuoka 100” is “Community-based Integrated Care System”, started since 2018. In the system, health information of older adults is collected, and analysed. Then, care plans are developed for prevention and social prescribing, such as measures of oral frailty, shopping support such as Uber-eats through the internet, social experiment of robot café. This initiative is planned to be integrated into the national long-term care system. However, nationwide dissemination will raise concerns about data privacy, scams, and fraud. On the other hand, in individuals, the grey digital divide is still a challenging problem to overcome. Among Japanese seniors aged over 70, only 24.3 % used information and communication equipment in 2020 [2]. The speaker also highlighted the digital capacity building of care staff to empower digitally naive older adults.

Finally, Professor Ogawa concluded the presentation by emphasizing the importance of social system to advocate human rights of older persons, and to bridge the grey digital divide through high-touch as well as high-tech services.

  • The interaction of Age-Friendly Cities and the digitalization process can be facilitated by assistive/welfare technology, promoting the rights of older people.

  • It is important to identify which assistive/welfare technology would enable older adults to be socially integrated and secure the data privacy when integrating LTC system with local municipalities.

Participants were interested in the diverse programs in the Fukuoka 100 project and raised questions about user satisfaction with the programs, the possible inclusion of non-Japanese older adults, and human resources training for the programs.

DIHAC 22nd meeting 2nd speaker summary

In the latter part of the meeting, Sodsri-saridwongsa Foundation, Thailand introduced an innovative way to sustain the economic productivity of seniors. Firstly, Dr. Attakrit Leckcivilize explained the aim and development of the project “To Create and Develop a Prototype of Fit to Work for Local Administrative Organization to Seek elderly job Opportunities at the Local Level”. In the ageing society of Thailand, a third of Thai older adults are still working and mostly engaging in the agricultural sector (60%) and service sector (30%) (3). Despite the small income, older adults continue working for financial security. Therefore, this project developed a prototype of fit to work program for local administrative organization (LAO) in job promotion and planning the health promotion programs. The research was conducted in 4 different geographical regions of Thailand and involved 1245 older adults aged 60 and over. Socio-economic characteristics, health data and job-related data were collected to find factors influencing the workability of older adults. A software system was developed and features visual analytics of the health status, Work Availability Index (WAI) and working ability of the older adults in the local area. By using the software, LAO utilized the health information and developed health promotion programs to help older adults increase their workability. This data-driven insight into workability facilitates older adults to stay in the job market and ensure financial security. However, the job should be flexible and match the health conditions of older adults. Finally, the speaker recommended that the project needs expansion of data collection for better prediction accuracy. The software demonstration was then presented by Mr. Taweewat Luangwiriya, who explained the process from data input to visualization.

This project gained the attention of the participants and led to a fruitful discussion. Professor Myo recommended an update to the new version of the Work Availability Index (WAI), such as the addition of a digital skills component. Upskilling and reskilling of older adults using digital technology and expanding job markets such as e-commerce could promote the workability in the era of digitization. Nevertheless, because of the limited data collection in rural regions, the digital sector did not receive favorable interest. Professor Ogawa also shared the experience in Japan in which older farmers are trained in computer literacy and obtain opportunities for better income in Agri-business through the Internet, with an example in Kamikatsu-cho, Tokushima Prefecture.

  • Innovations in digital technologies by stakeholders and academics facilitate the sustained economic productivity of older persons in the community.

  • Empowering the older persons through the digital training programs will promote job opportunities to those with limited workability.

To conclude, in this 22nd DIHAC Cross-cultural Exchange Meeting, we learned the policy and first-hand experience of Japan in public accessibility of assistive technology for promoting human rights of older persons in meso-level and macro-level. Thailand’s digital innovation in micro level has the potential to enhance individual’s capacity for sustained productivity of mature workforce. Older adults are the potential source of the country’s sustainable development. Their productivity is closely associated with health and well-being. Therefore, the design and implementation of assistive/welfare technology for health and well-being should consider the rights and dignity of older adults. The next 23rd DIHAC meeting will be held in June 2024.


  1. 福岡100 | 何歳でもチャレンジできる未来のまちへ. 福岡100 | 何歳でもチャレンジできる未来のまちへ.
  2. 情報通信機器の利活用に関する世論調査(令和2年10月調査) | 世論調査 | 内閣府. 内閣府世論調査.
  3. Situation of The Thai Older Persons 2021. Nakhon Pathom: Institute for Population and Social Research, Mahidol University., 2021.


Thet Htoo Pan, M.D., is Ph.D. student at the Department of Global Health Research, Graduate School of Medicine, Juntendo University, Tokyo, Japan

Myat Yanada Kyaw, M.D., is Ph.D. student at the Department of Global Health Research, Graduate School of Medicine, Juntendo University, Tokyo, Japan.

Ogawa Takeo, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus, Kyushu University and Yamaguchi University, Japan; Chairperson, The Fukuoka Council for Designing Society in Aging Asia; Founder, Active Aging Consortium in Asia Pacific (ACAP)

Attakrit Leckcivilize, M.D., is the Secretary-General of Sodsri-saridwongsa Foundation.

Taweewat Luangwiriya,M.D., is a health economist from Sodsri-saridwongsa Foundation.

Somying Saithanu, Sodsri-saridwongsa Foundation.

Myo Nyein Aung, M.D., M.Sc., Ph.D. is Associate Professor at the Department of Global Health Research, Graduate School of Medicine, Juntendo University, Tokyo, Japan

Malcolm Field, Ph.D., is Professor at Kyorin University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Japan and Waseda University, Faculty of International Liberal Arts, Japan