Senior Residents in Hokkaido Welcome Ride-Sharing

Japan Investment Properties

Japan Real Estate

15 Jan, 2018 –

Business practices collectively known as the “sharing economy” are finding their way to Japanese regional governments addressing such problems as aging populations and scarce job opportunities. The sharing economy involves activities in which individuals can pay to borrow or rent underused assets owned by others, including not only vehicles and other physical items but also intangible assets such as time and skills. It offers solutions for demand that is difficult to meet by conventional administrative policy measures or existing private-sector services.

The town office of Teshio in Hokkaido launched a ride-sharing program in March last year in cooperation with an intermediary service company in Tokyo. Residents in Teshio regularly visit Wakkanai, a city located some 70 km away, by car for shopping or to see doctors, but Teshio has many elderly people who are unable to drive. The town office introduced a matching program to make ride-shares available to residents. The number of such trips stood at 55 as of the end of last October, covering a total of 80 people. Many senior residents use the program to visit hospitals. One of them welcomed it as “extremely helpful.”

Costs for the local government to introduce the program were limited to expenses for travel to the town by representatives of the ride-sharing arrangement company, the preparation of documents to inform residents of the program and a few other tasks. The ride-sharing program is “much more cost-effective” than on-demand bus or taxi services, said a town official involved in the program. But with more drivers needed for the program, the town office is considering measures to reduce related burdens, such as a dedicated auto insurance policy for ride-sharing work.

In 2014, the Nichinan Municipal Government in Miyazaki Prefecture started a project in cooperation with a crowdsourcing service company in Tokyo to outsource the writing of local news articles and creation of websites to residents. Crowdsourcing is the process of farming out work online to a crowd of people.The city office picked three child-rearing women for the project and provided lessons, including on how to get work, with the aim of enabling them to earn ¥200,000 per month each. Although none of the three has earned as much as ¥200,000 to date, due in part to the difficulty of setting aside enough work hours, monthly incomes occasionally exceed ¥150,000, according to city officials. In addition, one of them has landed a job at an information technology venture company, attracted to Nichinan by the city government, and continued both child-rearing and work, utilizing a teleworking system introduced by the employer.

Job opportunities for child-raising women are limited in Nichinan in the absence of big local companies. The project has proved that new work systems “worth challenging are possible outside urban areas,” a city official said. The central government is set to promote the use of “shared” activities to address local problems. Starting in fiscal 2018, which starts in April, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications plans to carry out model projects solicited from local governments. A number of local governments are supporting the ministry’s plan, on the basis of projects they already have underway. They include the prefectural government of Yamagata, which promotes the use of volunteers to clear snow from roofs and support elderly citizens’ shopping.

The city of Inuyama, Aichi Prefecture, prioritizes child care support, while the Takeo city office in Saga Prefecture is working to establish a new transportation system for residents in sparsely populated areas.

(Source – “The Japan Times”, Pic – Aging Japan / “Hiro Kokoro Photo“)

This entry was posted in Japan Real Estate and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.