On 25 April, the seminar 'Architects for Health Study Tour 2005 Japan: Observations from Japanese Healthcare and Elderly Care Facilities', co-hosted by the Embassy of Japan and Architects for Health (AfH), was held at the Embassy of Japan. The participants consisted mainly of architects and health administrators from Japan and the United Kingdom.
In recognition of the similar challenges faced by both Japan and the UK in the health sector, experts from the two countries are keen to compare their know-how and expertise. To help foster such dialogue, a series of exchanges has taken place between the Japan Institute of Healthcare Architecture (JIHa) and Architects for Health. The AfH tour of Japan which was the subject of this seminar took place last November and was followed by a JIHa tour of the UK in January. In Japan the AfH delegation gained fascinating insights into Japan, its healthcare and elderly facilities, and their design. At the seminar the tour participants reported on what they head learned from the visit, after which there was a reception at which the Japanese and British sides were able to become better acquainted.
At the outset, Counsellor Mami Mizutori, Director of the Japan Information and Cultural Centre, spoke on relations between our two countries. In her view, the level of mutual understanding has reached the point where our ties go beyond cultural exchange: from now on, we should be focusing on issues of common concern including health, ageing societies, education and global warming. In that sense, she welcomed the seminar as a very timely initiative.
For the Japanese side, Dr Atsuo Kakehi, head of the International Committee of the Japan Institute of Healthcare Architecture (JIHa), described the rapid ageing and declining birth rate under way in Japan and the latest trends in healthcare there, including the introduction of state-of-the-art equipment and technology.
Six presentations from members of the AfH study tour followed. The first consisted of an Introduction and Overview. The other topics covered were: Children's Hospitals; Techno Cultural Design; Impact of Technology; Therapeutic Environments & Elderly Care; and The Relationship between the Internal and External Environments.
Following the presentations, Mr Kazuhisa Takeuchi, First Secretary of the Embassy of Japan, gave a speech. He felt that, in the light of efforts under way to reform and modernise the healthcare systems in both Japan and the UK, the timing of the seminar was most appropriate. He stressed the need for patients to be the focal point at all times and hoped that Healthcare Architecture, while of course paying attention to functionality and maximizing efficiency in healthcare facilities, would not lose sight of the importance of patient sastisfaction.
The report from the participants of the Health Study Tour was comprehensive and multi-faceted. Those attending the seminar were able not only to acquire a deeper understanding of the latest developments in healthcare and the related architecture in Japan but also to gain a sense of Japanese aesthetics and values.