From April 1st, Japanese companies will be obligated to provide work opportunities for employees up to 70.
Japan has an aging population, and to tackle the issues that come with changing demographics, for the past year the Japanese government has been implementing measures to ensure employment for senior citizens. Beginning in spring 2020, lawmakers began to put together policy pushing back retirement, and making it easier for older employees to continue working, much of which will be implemented from April 1st. (No, this isn’t an April Fool’s joke!) While there aren’t any penalties yet for companies who don’t comply with the new laws safeguarding employment opportunities for older workers, many companies are seriously considering a shift to retirement at 70 years old, and it’s a clear signal of social changes.
Under the new policy, employees are given the option to choose retirement at 65, postpone their retirement for an extra 5 years, or even seek re-employment at 65. Companies are being strongly encouraged to allow older workers (including those formerly retired) to return to their posts, or even return as paid volunteers, and to support them along the way
Japan’s low birthrate and aging population, progressing even faster than expected, is a clear influence on these new measures. According to government survey data, over 36 million people were aged 65 or older in Japan last year, accounting for almost 30% of the population. In 2019, although the population decreased by 290,000 people, the average age in Japan still went up. A quarter of all women in Japan are 70 or older―a clear sign of how Japan has the “oldest” population in the world.
In response, a third of all companies in Japan allow employees to continue working at 66 or older, and the general public’s perception of retirement is changing. As 100 years becomes an achievable age for many elderly citizens of Japan, raising the age of retirement to 70 gives many workers more time to save for retirement, and lightens the load on Japan’s social security systems
This new policy is just one of a variety of new employment-related measures being drawn up by lawmakers in Japan in recent months, alongside policy working to shrink the wage gap in small and medium-sized businesses. How much the new policy is actually taken into account at companies around Japan, however, we’ll have to wait and see.