Shibuya, one of Japan’s centers for youth culture, thinks its older residents need a tech upgrade.

Tokyo is the starting point for trends in Japan, and one of the city’s trendiest neighborhoods in Shibuya. So in a way it’s very fitting that Shibuya Ward wants its elderly residents who are still stubbornly using flip phones to hurry up and upgrade to smartphones, and the local government is even going to foot the bill for them to do it.

Shibuya has announced a plan to provide 3,000 smartphones to senior citizens living within the ward by this September. The reason for the initiative isn’t embarrassment at seniors’ outdated tech tarnishing Shibuya’s fashionable image, though. Increasing tech literacy among older Shibuya residents has been a goal since 2019, when powerful typhoons hit the Tokyo area. Local authorities found that seniors without smartphones had difficulty getting updated information on evacuation and sheltering warnings, since the newest notices were being posted online as situations developed.

The coronavirus pandemic is adding another reason Shibuya wants its seniors to switch to smartphones. An increasing amount of government paperwork which used to require in-person visits to government offices can now be done online, and seniors taking care of such matters through their smartphones cuts down on the number of people standing in lines, waiting in lobbies, and otherwise crowding around each other for extended periods of time.

The first year of the two-year smartphones-for-seniors initiative is expected to cost around 365 million yen (about US$3.5 million), which will go not just towards procuring and loaning the phones to elderly residents, but in setting up programs to teach them how to use the devices, which will come preloaded with health and disaster information apps. In addition, the government will be covering all calling and data plan costs for the seniors’ phones, though seniors themselves will assumedly still be responsible for any additional charges they incur such as mobile game item purchases or adult video site memberships.

Source: Mainichi Shimbun via Livedoor News via Jin, Yomiuri Shimbun
Top image: Pakutaso
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!