Japan is developing a nursing-care robot
Japan has long been looking at how to provide care for the elderly without accepting immigrants or refugees.
Due to a shrinking labor force, as well as greater demand for elder-care, the country will be short 380,000 health nurses by 2025, though many independent experts put the figure closer to 500,000.
The most obvious solution would be to import nurses and care workers from nearby Southeast Asian countries, like the Philippines and Indonesia, where unemployment remains a persistent problem for trained nurses. But so far labor migration is only happening on a limited scale. Japan’s traditional xenophobia has also made life difficult for outsiders living here.
But Japan prefers robots to foreign nurses. Robear is a nursing-care robot touted as strong enough to lift up elderly Japanese and bring them to the bathroom, but also gentle enough to provide them support as they sit down in wheelchairs. The robot hasn’t been designed to replace careworkers, because a nurse still needs to attach the straps and place them under the patient.
Others robots are available, such as Paro, the miniature robotic plush seal that keeps up basic chatter with elderly Japanese to ward off dementia. Then there’s Kirobo Mini, the robot recently unveiled by Toyota that wobbles like a toddler to provide companionship to the legions of childless Japanese women.