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Last year the Centre for Public Impact published a review of Japan’s Lifelong Learning Promotion law, which was passed in 1990. The case study was part of a series of international policies that focus on easing the transition to retirement and later life.

Japan has a rapidly ageing population and uneven regional development. Young people are moving to the larger urban areas in search of work, leaving the elderly behind. These factors present a challenge to policy makers.

The authors found that the Japanese act has generally achieved its goals in terms of enhancing non-formal education for people of all ages and has driven a shift from Japan’s traditional focus on formal education to more informal, human resource-centred forms of learning. It has, in the process, enhanced the wellbeing of older people.

The act provided for the establishment of Lifelong Learning Councils at national and prefectural levels, support for local promotion of lifelong learning, provisions for the development of lifelong learning in designated communities and surveys for assessing the learning needs of prefectural residents.

As a result there are more non-formal courses and activities including, sports, culture, hobbies, recreation and volunteer activities through civil society initiatives, universities and traditional Kominkan (Community Centres) which are located throughout Japan.

Click here to read more about the provision and an assessment of what did and did not work.