The angels that guard you / When you drive / Usually retire / At sixty-five

That ditty, for Burma-Shave brushless shaving cream, appeared in signs along U.S. highways in the early 1960s. The number 65 suggested drivers who exceeded that figure in miles per hour (equivalent to 104.6 km/hr), raised the risk of a fatal accident. It also acknowledges that even half a century ago, Americans saw nothing odd about staying on the job until reaching age 65.

Now finally, Japan is catching up. From next month, when the 2013 fiscal year begins, the revised Law Concerning Stabilization of Employment of Older Persons takes effect, and the mandatory retirement age, defined as the minimum age for payout of social security pensions — last raised from 55 to 60 years in 1998 — will go up to 61, and then increase incrementally at the rate of one year of age every three years, until 2025, when the mandatory retirement age reaches 65.