Japan’s elderly keep working well past retirement age

The Japanese government has decided to raise the official age of retirement to age 65 by 2025. This compares to 61 in April 2013 and 62 in 2016

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The Independent Online

Unemployment has dropped to its lowest in two decades in Japan, in part because so many of the country’s elderly are still working.

Japan’s unemployment rate in January hit 3.3 per cent, its lowest level in 20 years. 

That’s well below the UK’s 5.3 per cent unemployment rate. It’s even better than Germany, which has the lowest unemployment rate in the Eurozone at 4.3 per cent.

While the global population is ageing, Japan leads the way. 

People over 65 are now expected to account for 60 per cent of Japan’s population by 2060, according to government’s estimates. The country could lose more than 27 million workers in future if it does not address some of the lowest birth-rates in the world, at just 1.4 children per woman.

Some of Japan’s elderly are happy to stay in work. They say it helps them to stay mentally and physically fit.

Sugira, 86, a former sweets salesman at a department store, now repairs traditional Japanese sliding doors.

“I’m working to keep my body in good shape. I think it’s wrong not to be doing anything. There’s no point staying at home twiddling my thumbs,” he told AFP.

Others like Junko Kondo, 63, who assembles packages for wrapping up salt sold at luxury stores, are trying to save money for their grandchildren as the government pension is not sufficient.

“I’m saving the money I make here I’ll use it to buy presents for my grandchildren, or a sweater, or maybe just lunch for myself,” she said.

The Japanese government has decided to raise the official age of retirement to age 65 by 2025. This compares to 61 in April 2013 and 62 in 2016.

Some companies are dealing with the crisis early.

Honda, the Japanese carmaker, has raised the retirement age to 65 starting April 2016, becoming one of the biggest companies to take action in coping with Japan’s aging population.

“There is very strong market pressure for employers to keep older people,” Atsushi Seike, a professor of labour economics and president of Tokyo’s Keio University, told AFP.

“Many want to increase the number of employees of a certain age, even in large firms, and I think this trend will continue and even accelerate in the future,” she added.

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