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Gov't to urge firms to hire employees until age 70 amid labor crunch

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If that is the case.... then they should not retire and then re-hire the employee at a lower wage. Wages in Japan are already pretty low compared to other G8 Countries. Especially when you consider that just about everything you do in Japan costs money.

23 ( +25 / -2 )

The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also plans to call on companies to provide support for retired employees to find new jobs, launch their own companies or work freelance.

Personally speaking I am not 100% against this idea, but damn close to it. It totally depends upon the person, yet starting a business, particularly after retiring, is a daunting challenge. Do we want a society with a bunch of bankrupt seniors? The potential for failure is great, without proper support, financial and otherwise, starting a business, depending upon the person and situation, does not sound like a great solution to me!

Many companies in Japan set a retirement age of 60, but employees are legally allowed to work until 65 if they desire and employers are obliged to rehire them.

Yeah, right, stop the mandatory retirement at 60, raise it to 65 officially, then let's start talking! The way it is now, is that a person "retires" at 60 and the next day they come to work, they are doing the exact same job, with no bonus, no added benefits, controlled vacation time, and more importantly a salary that is cut, for doing the EXACT SAME JOB!

Making slaves of people over 60!

18 ( +21 / -3 )

Quite true what psycho says, especially at the higher corporate level. Many former high level management can only continue at staff level after 60, which is basically telling an older member to quit.

15 ( +15 / -0 )

Try standing in a packed commuter train for an hour in your sixties!

If you survive that then the station stairs might just be your demise or the slanting sidewalks or the ten second road crossings....

14 ( +16 / -2 )

 why shouldnt Japanese continue work until 70

To have a live, enjoy themselves and not labor on like slaves until they die.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

"It is necessary to provide a variety of options to make use of the expertise of elderly workers," Abe said in a gathering to discuss future growth policies.

In other words, we don't have enough young bloods AND we can't pay the seniors a retirement wage so please keep them working through their golden years. There. Fixed it.

Yeah, right, stop the mandatory retirement at 60, raise it to 65 officially, then let's start talking! The way it is now, is that a person "retires" at 60 and the next day they come to work, they are doing the exact same job, with no bonus, no added benefits, controlled vacation time, and more importantly a salary that is cut, for doing the EXACT SAME JOB!

> Making slaves of people over 60!

exactly.

After all, the average age for a Japanese farmer is over 70.

True, but that should really make you worry about the future of the food supply in Japan. After all, these farmers are not going to be farming at 95-100 years of age.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

More "urging", I have never seen such wasted breath. How about pass and enforce age discrimination laws, retirement age laws, overtime pay laws and dispense with the "urging"?

11 ( +11 / -0 )

With the longest life-span in the world, excellent overall health and seniors staying active well into their 80s and 90s, why shouldnt Japanese continue work until 70?

Monaco

The second smallest country in the world boasts the highest life expectancy, with citizens living an average of 89.4 years. Good things come in small packages?

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.cbsnews.com/amp/pictures/who-lives-longest-cias-top-20-nations-for-life-expectancy/

> After all, the average age for a Japanese farmer is over 70.

This is because young Japanese people want little to do with farming.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

Aged 56 I came to work in Japan in a factory and see that it is very hard to endure 12 hours a day work shift. There is a strong pressure for high productivity along all day, every minute.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

@ mu-da

Unfortunately there are already not enough youth working to pay for my retirement when I hit 60 or 65 or even 70. We don’t pay into our own pensions here as I am sure you are aware; we pay into the funds that are paying those currently receiving pension. So I will HAVE to work at 70 in order to avoid living in a cardboard box in Shinjuku. And so will everyone my age and below. It is daunting.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

People are healthy enough in many jobs to work to 65 or older, so that in itself is not a problem.

The problem in Japan is the seishain system. At 60, a seishain will be someone who was taken on 35 years ago and has been unsackable. There is no guarantee that that person will be of any use to the company any more at senior employee pay levels.

Retiring at 60 and living to 90 on a pension strikes me as fundamentally unsustainable with current pension contributions and low interest rates. That would be working for 35 years and being on a pension for 30.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Ganbare

After all, the average age for a Japanese farmer is over 70.

Over 70 and very high productivity.

(Sarcasm)

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Lolololololololololoololololololol

See? Problem solved. None of that labor restructuring involving increased wages coupled with hiring actual skilled individuals. Oh no. Force people to retire at 70. Seeing as japans promotions depend on upward mobility, how in the world will anyone be motivated to work if they have to wait decades to climb the ladder?

8 ( +8 / -0 )

One in every three people in Japan is expected to be 65 or older in 2025, government data showed

One out of three?? and that's only 6 years away! This is truly frightening

7 ( +8 / -1 )

60 seem relatively low age for retirement compared to many other countries. Depending on the profession 63-67 seems more suitable.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

All well and good coming out with these platitudes but with age discrimination being so rife in Japan, good luck with trying to find a job over 50, let alone 60. I have heard people saying that once you reach 60, you might as well be dead. Sad state of affairs and such a waste of human resources.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

@kohakuebisu

exactly.

The retirement age of 60 was decided upon when people only lived to 65. Now that people live to 80, if you want to have a sustainable system, your only option is to raise the retirement age.

I'm as lazy as the next guy, but I'm also a realist.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

What is the essence of retirement if people have to work till they die.

Retirement is meant to allow one to rest the body and indulge in their hobbies in the later part of their life.

Without substantial savings, some people are forced to work right into their seventies due to the extremely low pension which can be as low as 79,000yen per month.

Even if you are willing to work companies are reluctant to hire a fifty or sixty something year old and when they do you are not paid based on your ability, they exploit with very low salary because they know you have no choice since most companies are unwilling to employ.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

After all, the average age for a Japanese farmer is over 70.*

And their bodies are absolutely destroyed. With zero social mobility in Japan, how else can they put food on the table?

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Working by choice is OK, but forced to work because of desperate situations at that age?

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Abe is Master of Cosmetic Makeup, master of pledges, master of urging, master of creating fake impressions,

Master of half -hearted gestures.

How about making sure the pension is wisely invested and brings in a good return and those managing the fund held responsible when the fund losses like it lost was it 87 trillion yen a few years ago and Abe was supposed to take responsibity for encouraging the fund to shift from low risk low return to high risk high return investments without hiring capable fund managers.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

As many respondents have pointed out, while there is some possible positive gain in this ’new’ labor thrust, there is also a lot of smoke and mirrors, and a lot of things left unsaid. Permit me to explain, and then return to the article, and my personal experience with this 'new' policy.

The corporate world (or most other institutions), in either my mother country (the U.S.) or the country I've called home for more than half my life and counting (Japan), is not a democratic world. Neither Jeff Bezos, the Walton family, nor their Japanese counterparts of CEOs or members of the Board of Directors were 'democratically elected' or chosen by meritocratic ideals alone. Neither do they run their companies by democratic heuristics.

Those institutions are extremely hierarchical, and closer to wage-bondage, feudal kingdoms in structure, rather than true meritocracies we are led to believe through education or the media. If companies were ranked by the same GINI coefficients measuring inequality that is often applied to countries, many of these companies would be off the map ... particularly the two U.S. counterparts I mentioned. When you are hired to work at Walmart, for instance, you are also given an application form for tax-subsidized food-stamps, while the members of the Walton family are making roughly $12,000.00 an hour. It is a little better with the imbalance of power by the corporate-state elites of Japan Inc., but growing worse as those far-right elites are, step-by-step, with each corporate-friendly law and tax cut, further concentrating power into fewer hands.

The simplest of statistics and common sense should be enough to realize that no matter how meritocratic the corporate-state claims to be, no hierarchies can allow everyone their place in the sun near the top on meritocracy alone. In fact, studies have shown a high correlation between CEOs (and political counterparts) with the 'dark-triad' personality traits of narcissism, machiavellian opportunism, and psychopathy ... and being either unwilling or incapable of following empathy-driven morality, depend on rule-driven moralities to game to their own advantage. As all large populations necessarily depend on rule-driven morality (the legal system), rather than empathy-driven morality, there is an inevitable mission drift (mission creep) to the right, and to corruption. Just take a look at Harvard University's original mission statement, and compare that with the Goldman Sachs elite that graduate from the school now.

The vast majority of those working in large populations, more neuro-typical and empathetic, are from birth, destined to be disposable human capital ... and those destinies are deliberately designed by the ruling elite. Those destinies are selectively enforced through law, invented traditions, history, and news. Corporate 'wa' for instance, is more like corporate 'ha' if you take a look at the history of pre-war labor riots in Japan. This Meiji-era creation of the conceit of uniquely Japanese 'wa' is pretty similar to the way fake news is created and used in the U.S. And if the propagandizing of history, education, and news is not enough, the corporate state will not hesitate to use force. Anyone old enough to remember who killed who at Kent State? America has a similarly violent and bleak history of suppressions of labour unions and worker rights. And meanwhile, when banks or auto industries become 'too big to fail', they fail anyways, and are bailed-out by working class taxes. Corporations are hat-in-hand socialist when in the red, and dog-eat-dog capitalist when in the black. Individual workers and their human rights are just fodder for Mammon.

But back to Abe's plans 'to call on companies to provide support for retired employees to find new jobs, launch their own companies or work freelance.'

It is more than ironic to juxtapose that plan with other labor statistics, for example, the lack of gender parity, the government's unwillingness to follow its own law regarding the percentage of handicapped people hired, the high percentage (about 1/3) of company recruits who leave the company within three years, and the lax oversight or legal rights and enforcement regarding immigrant labor — previously as 'trainees', now under a new visa.

The official news does not sufficiently parse what, exactly, the term 'retired employees' means. My modest proposal is to call a spade a spade ... 'retired' means 'redundant or disposed-of' human capital.

The vast majority who will never rise to the top by meritocratic means alone, now can no longer even run as fast as they can just to stay in place. Like America Inc., Japan Inc. is quickly widening the gap between the few haves and the many have-nots by hollowing out the middle class. And as hinted at above, neo-liberal policies are rammed through the super-majority diet at such break-neck speed, that the majority are only vaguely aware that Abenomics is basically failed Reaganomics and Thatcherism in a Kabuki-mask — trickle-down (notttt) from corporate-friendly tax breaks for the corporate elite, and austerity for the rest of us. Austerity especially for those of us on fixed or limited incomes ... a little money is 'officially' available — 'just fill out these forms', and 'forms for forms' — for example, TEPCO's deliberately designed, sky-high hoops the recipients (victims of corporate malfeasance) of pay-outs were required to jump through. Similar to the recent law giving 3 million yen in payouts to forced victims of eugenic-sterilization ... but without the government's obligation to inform those victims of the new law, or their rights. 'Heart-felt apologies' indeed.

My personal case is one of many similar examples.

I was in a tenured position at Jissen Women's college, and by contract, entitled to work until age 70 if I chose to do so. But like many other industries with their ups and downs, the law of supply (number of schools and teachers) and demand (the declining number of students) was such that the school, desperate to cut costs in the most 'efficient' way, targeted me, as the only tenured non-Japanese at the Junior College, for termination.

Neither my work contract, nor Japanese labor law was designed to protect my human rights, and even my lawyer said that though I was academically harassed into resigning ... contrary to Japanese labor law, and a court case would likely give me a victory ... it would be a long, drawn-out, pyrrhic victory, and the pay-out would not be worth my while. Better to just put it behind me and get along with my life.

So at age 59, rather than risk suicide (as happened to a Japanese colleague), I resigned from a tenured position, thinking I would find suitable work elsewhere, if nothing else, go back to making a living an itinerant instructor juggling several part-time jobs. That was nearly 5 years ago ... and for some mysterious reason, I fail to make the cut for even a single part-time university class ... or even gain work for an outsourcing company teaching conversational English. I just finished my 3rd stint as an All Japan English Speech Contest judge for the University of Tokyo, but as a volunteer. In other words, I am 'damaged goods', disposed-of human capital, an expendable asset ... and no more.

There is no place for the likes of me in Abe's world except at the VERY bottom ... doing those kkk jobs (kitenai, kitsui, kikken - dirty, difficult, and dangerous). I suspect the same is true for many similarly 'retired' Japanese as well.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Make it a mandatory 65-years-of-age retirement!

Full salary and all the other benefits.

Then let them (us) retire if we want to.

Everything else is just "cosmetics" ..... and abusing those who worked all their life to finally enjoy retirement.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

People retire at 65, receive their pensions and continue working if they want.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I'm confused. Does this mean that when my school tries to retire me at 60, I can legally continue working until 65 at the same salary if I so choose? Or is this just the usual way that teachers retire and 60 and then just continue working part-time on a part-time salary like now?

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Jonathon Prin is right, but the Japanese are brainwashed from birth to live a life completely in servitude to those who give little to nothing in return. Japan needs a major awakening in the hearts and minds of people. Sad.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Well written Steve Martin.

Every word true and depressing.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

As long as these old guys don't mind a younger male or female boss and will work with a good attitude, and will positively use flextime and take days off I have no problem with this.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

@SaikoPhysco: "If that is the case.... then they should not retire and then re-hire the employee at a lower wage. Wages in Japan are already pretty low compared to other G8 Countries. "

I would have to disagree at least for permanent employees in large companies. These largely "guys" are vastly overpaid due to the seniority system which is why they MUST be paid lower after 60 because they basically do nothing but order others around and sit around all day. This is the reality. If they follow your idea, that means that highly productive persons in their 20s-40s will have to be artificially paid even less (already the reality).

5 ( +6 / -1 )

This will only stop the younger generation from finding a job. Why go to college if the old guys are there taking space and collecting their miserably small salaries? The government can’t afford pensions. Can they afford their young graduates who’ve spent years in cram schools, worked hard to get into good schools, etc. to be left out in the open just to keep the government from paying pensions? In a sense amakudari trumps the newly graduates. Not a smart move..again by the Abe administration.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

To me, higher wages should have priority over labour/skill fulfilment, and I'm being fair when I use the term fulfilment because the business lobby just want to saturate the labour market (rather than fill a true shortage of labour) inorder to keep wage rises low.

If you ever had the unfortunate experience of missing the last train at Ueno or Akihabara, men by the dozens gather there in the wee hours to get casual work from labour hire brokers. This tells me the hirers just don't want to pay higher wages or employ people full time.

IMHO, it's an exploitation market, not labour hire market, and they can only exploit if there is excess labour in the country. This is Japan's shame that should be eliminated for the new Reiwa era.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Right. So when will the government announce that we can only start picking up our pensions at, say, 68?

Preparing the foundations.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

A ridiculous way to solve the problem.

Especially with these narrow minded jijis

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I thought one's target in life was to be able to live as much as possible one's favorite hobbies/passions, not to work for others.

Personally speaking, I plan to retire at 60 (or before) if possible by managing my own wealth to do so, without counting on the Ponzi scheme of state pension funds.

There is so much to give and discover in the world where you need time.

I have been warning people enough about the demography issue in Japan, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. (Start of increasing loss of active people, soon over a million inhabitants per year !).

The government is not here to save you. You only accept a moral contract when working, which is not fulfilled later...

Seishain or not, whatever laws, privileged like Abe exploiting people (no reduced salaries for them).

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Govt next step to solve labor shortage will be to urge companies to allow work till the age of 80.

I see a real problem but all proposed solutions are just gimmicks.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Steve Martin, what a brilliant post. Absolutely superb and so true! I think you should be a writer sir, you have great writing skills!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

My god, mina be-careful, wonder Gov't thinking for a bil of Nenkin at 70 ( instead of 65) ???

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I think the current system has it about right. After 60, the vast majority of company employees are not particularly productive anymore and never will be. They just don’t have the vigour they had in their 30s and 40s and are on cruise mode thinking ahead to days of leisure. There are exceptions, but this would be the majority. Abe is just trying to look like he’s doing something but 70 is just too old to retire. Many serious health and disability issues will have appeared in people by that age too. The only answer now is to utilise the labor of women, robots and foreigners in a smart way, and to a lesser extent seniors, in certain positions. And to pay higher part time wage rates. On a related note the number of “help wanted” signs on the walls of almost every small business you walk into in Japan is truly frightening and getting worse.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

"to urge companies to hire employees until age 70" well that all well and good IF that person is fit and well, what about construction workers, tree surgeons, mechanics,? these sort of guys are in a industry with many others that is hard going on your body, your body can't keep on shovelling cement, sand and carrying concrete blocks, or carrying heavy tree logs, have you ever seen a 70 year old fire man running up ladders and carry some one from a burning building??? its just totally impracticable for some one of this age to carry on working in a heavy manual type job, as for "retraining" who is going to want to employ a 70 year old who been in a different industry, its not the skill set that they would be looking for, so 90% who have retired might find it hard to change, also when you get to 70, its hard to learn another skill.

"but there will be no penalties at this stage if companies fail to comply." I don't like his tone in this statement, comply, in other words you will, jees, still bullying I see.

will the unretired person get there pension as well as a wage? or will the be penalised? will they get health cover? I am looking to retire at 60, I have had enough of carrying heavy timber around and climbing trees, its exhausting, so would I eat to carry on doing this when I am, 70? eeeer, no sorry.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

70! That's tough! I guess 60 is universally accepted as the retirement age.

Universally? Your guess is quite off the mark, do a little "google" search and you will find that unless you are talking about women alone, the "universally" accepted retirement age is not 60!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I am all for anti-age discrimination , as too anti -* (sex discrimination, or color/race bias discrimination, etc)

What's sad, is that elderly people NEED to work in order to Survive here. During their youth, they populated the Governments coffers with Pension fund monies, and now that they're old, the Pension-Ponzi scheme is hitting the brakes and reducing further what they can live off.

Instead of building up new Military Attack capabilities, why not funnel the money back into the population - encourage a Lifestyle that rewards and promotes Family top-down. Make Japan, the envy of other Asian Countries who's own populations wished they could come here to Work in order to enjoy such a lifestyle in future.

I like working for the Social side of it, interaction with people, old and ... younger (girls :-) - the money is a benefit, so I am fortunate. But there are many who have significantly less so, and this is a disgrace, and shows a distinct lack of forward thinking by the Government, whose cosy jobs have an "amundi" after-life.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Squeezing the last bit of juice out of the orange eh.

Give us a break.

Let the robots do the work.

1 ( +8 / -7 )

When the company which can work actually doesn't exist even if a law is revised, it's insignificant.

Does a category of work to need aged people exist?

A working environment entered time of the confusion.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I'm confused. Does this mean that when my school tries to retire me at 60, I can legally continue working until 65 at the same salary if I so choose? Or is this just the usual way that teachers retire and 60 and then just continue working part-time on a part-time salary like now?

Here is something lost in all the noise. This is about full time workers, a dying breed in Japan, as more and more workers are contracted or part-time, meaning that their is no requirement, by law, for the company to keep them on after the "mandatory" retirement at 60.

So if you are a full timer, yeah that's about right. Those other teachers you refer to, working on a PT salary, that's a different story.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Gov't to urge firms 

But

Gov't force public to pay higher taxes.

What a beauty of  democracy!!!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@SaikoPhsyco.

.

Good point!

@kurisupisu

also true ! ;-)

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Not sure this strategy will work for taxi companies...

0 ( +3 / -3 )

 thought one's target in life was to be able to live as much as possible one's favorite hobbies/passions, not to work for others.

@ Jonanathin Prin

who taught you this? dream on

but the Japanese are brainwashed from birth to live a life completely in servitude

Where did you get the impression that working for a living means being brainwashed? How different is Japan, where people do this, from Canada, where people do the same?

With zero social mobility in Japan, how else can they put food on the table?

Again, you seem to be pulling facts from thin air. Farmers in Japan are some of the wealthiest in the world. The reason they don’t retire is they think it a waste to let their land go to pot.

Seriously, where are you guys getting these ideas? Dreams are nice, but down on planet earth, we have to deal in reality.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

That last quote was @ Agent x

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I don't understand one thing: the system says that you have to retire when you're 60 years old, regardless the amount of time you have actually worked in your life?

For example, there are people that start working in their 20s, people starting working in their 30s... Of course people who start working earlier pay a lot more taxes than others.

The system doesn't say how much time you should work before actually being able to retire?

For example, in Italy, we have to work 40 years (regardless when we start working) before being able to retire, this means that the earlier you begin, the earlier you finish.

Moreover, 60 years is really a low limit, considering how long Japanese people live. You could end up spending a longer time in retirement than in the workforce, thus weighing on the pension system.

Anyway I think that the age at which you want to retire should be your choice (provided you have contributed enough to the pension system), so instead of saying "everyone should retire at 60", the govern should just set an amount of time that you have to have worked before retiring, thus leaving everyone free to decide for themselves.

I get that being able to decide for themselves is something that Japanese people can't really do though....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Honestly what are these guys going to be doing at 65+?

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

70! That's tough! I guess 60 is universally accepted as the retirement age.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

There is no place for the likes of me in Abe's world except at the VERY bottom

That is also true in the US, UK, Australia, etc. if your one and only qualification is being a native speaker of English.

At age 72 in Japan, I get writing gigs (English and Japanese), translation gigs (Japanese to English), teaching gigs (Japanese), and occasional television appearances (Japanese). I also get sporadic business consultancy gigs (English).

If that is the case.... then they should not retire and then re-hire the employee at a lower wage. Wages in Japan are already pretty low compared to other G8 Countries. Especially when you consider that just about everything you do in Japan costs money.

My Japanese university had retirement at 70 when I started. They dropped it to 67 for all regular faculty who started when I did but gave you a further three years at 60-70% of your final year pay with a two-thirds work load. I thought it was a very good deal.

My salary and benefits in Japan were better than what I could have expected in Britain.

 The "G8" (now defunct) included Russia, not known for high incomes unless you are a Putin crony or engaged in illegal activities.

In terms of gross household income adjusted for the cost of living, Japan is mid-range for a G7 country.

Japanese wages are mid-range in OECD terms. Japanese wages are above those of Italy, a G7 country and only slightly lower than the UK and France both of which are also G7 countries.

As a UK homeowner, I can assure you that prices in the UK are very high and just about everything you do in Britain costs money, usually more money than the same thing would cost in Japan.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

With the longest life-span in the world, excellent overall health and seniors staying active well into their 80s and 90s, why shouldnt Japanese continue work until 70? After all, the average age for a Japanese farmer is over 70.

-11 ( +6 / -17 )

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