Japanese and German populations are getting older and thus creating new challenges for their legislative systems, e.g., through the increase of illnesses and cases of dementia. The new Japan Adult Guardianship Law passed in the year 2000 is based on the experiences of Germany. The law shall to its utmost guarantee to the disabled a life self-determined and without discrimination. It is based on the concept that instead of protecting them by taking away their rights, it empowers patients without stripping them of their abilities. Even in the case of reduced intellectual faculties people should still be able to use the abilities they retain. Since the guardianship law was introduced seven years ago, in a population of 127 million, legal guardianship has been claimed in 67,215 cases and voluntary guardianship in 14,938 cases, very few of which involved seniors with dementia.
By contrast more than 1.2 million out of 82 million Germans have made use of the country's guardianship law since its introduction 15 years ago. Even the preventative measures are used by a large majority. This explains why Germany has earned itself the nickname "republic under guardianship". Red tape in the application process and a general reluctance to accept formal regulation of this issue explain the disparity between Germany and Japan. The reason for the difference to Germany is due to the lack of understanding in Japanese society for contracts as well as the complicated application procedure for adult guardianship. Moreover it continues to have a bad image in Japan where the guardianship of adults is regarded as an internal family matter. The symposium could contribute toward raising consciousness, whereby guardianship is regarded as more of a problem that pertains to society as a whole.