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Proposal To Raise 'Outdated' Retirement Age Put Forward By Japan's Doctors
Campaigners in ageing country say it's past time to change 65-year threshold (CCSS Level: Grade 10, Words: 445)
Jul 25, 2017 Style & Living
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With its fast-declining birthrate and growing body of older people, Japan is considered a 'super-aged' nation, where more than 20% of the population is over 65. By 2020, there will be 13 such countries in the world.

To cater for this 'super-aged' nation, doctors have come up with a novel idea to help Japan keep pace with its growing numbers of older people in the population: raising the definition of senior citizen to those aged 75 years and older. In order to deal with their growing labour shortage that's set to hit the care-giving and industrial sectors the hardest, and in the hopes of reinvigorating a stalling economy, the Japanese government has encouraged more seniors and stay-at-home mothers to re-enter the workforce.

A leading campaigner said the commonly accepted 65-year threshold is "terribly outdated" and needs to be lifted to take account of longer life expectancy and changing social attitudes to ageing.

Dr Yasuyoshi Ouchi, the former chairman of the Japan Geriatrics Society, said the proposal was not meant to give political cover for increasing the pension age. Instead, people in their later 60s should be afforded greater flexibility to continue working or volunteering for community groups, if they wished to do so.

"Those who feel that they are still healthy when they reach 60 or 65 are forced to retire, and that means those who are used to supporting others become those who need to be supported by others instead," Ouchi told an audience at the Foreign Press Centre of Japan on Tuesday. "We think this kind of treatment is so outdated."

Under the proposals put forward by a joint committee of the Japan Gerontological Society and the Japan Geriatrics Society, people aged 65-74 would be classed as pre-old age and those over 75 would be in the old age category. People who have passed their 90th birthday would be described as "super-old".

Despite efforts to encourage more senior citizens to work for longer, over 80% of companies in Japan still set their official retirement age at 60, according to a 2015 survey conducted by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.

In 2013, the government passed a law requiring companies to raise the mandatory retirement age to 65. But full compliance isn't required until 2025. This has created a situation where many companies rehire senior workers at lower salaries once they pass retirement age, according to Atsushi Seike, an economist at Keio University in Japan.

"There should be more pressure on companies to extend mandatory retirement to 65, as a decline in wages really discourages older worker to continue working," he said.

What Japanese problem will not be helped by the raising of the retirement age?
Japan's fast-declining birthrate means fewer workers
Rapidly rising housing prices make homes unaffordable
Senior citizens are often paid at a lower rate
Japan has become a 'super-aged' nation
Which country does NOT have the same problems - with a rapidly ageing population and declining birth rates?
Italy
Germany
U.S.A
Greece
What is the current retirement age in Japan?
55
60
65
70
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