Community well-being a top priority for this Aomori torchbearer

MURASHITA Koichi is involved in the Government Centre of Innovation (COI) programme at Hirosaki University.

With residents of his home prefecture of Aomori having the shortest life expectancy in Japan, he has been conducting a large-scale medical survey project, the Iwaki Health Promotion Project, in the hope of finding a solution.

He is also involved in covering the unique and large database of medical information to projects such as developing artificially intelligent disease prediction models, or creating new healthcare-related products and services in collaboration with a variety of companies.

Today, a health innovation platform is being formed in Hirosaki that will concentrate the collective energies of industry, academia, government and individuals. The project aims to produce a new medical examination model that will contribute to the promotion of well-being in society and the creation of new industries.

Murashita hopes that the torch relay will be an opportunity to publicise this ambitious and home-grown project.

What difficulties have you encountered in conducting the Iwaki Health Promotion Project?

This is a examination being conducted by a team of approximately 300 medical staff. Each session can take up to 10 hours, and is a significant burden for the person being examined. We are constantly striving to build relationships with residents and contribute to bettering their health.

What has been the local community’s reaction to this project?

Residents receive easy-to-understand feedback and health advice based on their medical data. I think that they are extremely satisfied. Medical students participate as part of their education, and the elderly patients are especially glad to interact with them every year.

How do you want to change Aomori Prefecture through this project?

Our priority is to help people to live longer, and stop having the lowest life expectancy of any prefecture in Japan. However, rather than rest on our laurels, we want to get more businesses on board and create new health industries, revitalise local economies, and develop regional communities.

Please tell us about Aomori Prefecture.

Aomori Prefecture is surrounded by the sea on three sides, and is truly rich in nature, culture, and history. For instance, we have the Sannai Maruyama archaeological site, Nebuta Matsuri summer festival, and Shirakami-sanchi world heritage area. We also have Hirosaki Park, which is famous for having the best cherry blossoms in Japan. Nearby the park is the Hirosaki University School of Medicine, where cutting-edge health research is being conducted.

Do you have a word for the people of Hirosaki as torchbearer?

By running as torchbearer, I hope to communicate my passion for this project, and I hope that it will be an opportunity for all of us in Aomori to redouble our efforts and build momentum to increase our life expectancy.