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Asia Minute: Later Retirement in Japan?

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Nearly one in five residents in Hawai’i is 65 or older. That’s the seventh-highest figure in the country, and that part of the population is growing faster here than the national average. Japan is graying even faster, and is moving closer to a major age-related change.

More than a quarter of Japan’s population is 65 or older. In another five years, it’ll be a third of the country.

This week, Japan’s government is moving a step closer to pushing back the country’s retirement age. The cabinet has approved a series of bills that would raise the maximum retirement age from 65 to 70. Other measures would include incentives for companies to hire older workers as freelancers, or to work in philanthropic efforts, or to start new businesses.

The overall goal is to encourage people to work longer. As Japan continues to deal with a falling birthrate, an aging population and a shrinking workforce.

A recent government study found a little more than half of Japanese companies have allowed workers to stay on past the customary retirement age of 65, but for less money and fewer benefits.

The new law would change that.

In all, half a dozen bills related to employment and the older workforce will be sent to Japan’s parliament – where they are expected to pass.

The changes, including the later retirement age, could go into effect early next year.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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