Government panel paves way for Japan's working age limit to be raised to 70


The government wants to raise the working age limit from its current threshold of 65 to 70 as part of efforts to promote economic growth in the fast-graying country, a draft plan compiled by a government panel showed Thursday.

The draft midterm report by the committee, which is responsible for coming up with the government’s growth strategy, also calls for big firms to disclose the percentage of different age groups among their employees — a move aimed at promoting mid-career employment among companies in an environment where many people are recruited freshly out of school.

The plans will likely be decided at a meeting of the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy on Monday to serve as a basis for an action plan to be created next summer.

It marks the first step by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government toward revamping the social security system over a three-year period to better cover all generations, although it still needs cooperation from the business world before the plan can be realized.

In the course of preparing to submit bills on the age limit in 2020, the government will also consider promoting different working styles — such as working shorter hours or working remotely from home — and facilitating employment of seniors by providing subsidies and setting up special councils of municipalities and firms.

The government plans to maintain the principle of awarding public pensions from age 65, although it aims to give people a new option of postponing receive of the funds until they reach the age of 70.

By law, one’s pension can be tapped at any time between 60 and 70.

If a person chooses to start receiving his or her pension after their 65th birthday their monthly payments are raised, but the option is not widely adopted.

Other measures covered by the plan included creating a new drivers’ license targeting the elderly who drive vehicles with special safety functions, as well as automatically sending nursery school applications to people with appropriately aged children rather than making them visit an office to apply for a place.

According to a data released in September by the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry, over a fifth of Japan’s population is now aged 70 or over.

The data shows that the 26.18 million people in that age group accounted for 20.7 percent of the population, crossing the 20 percent line for the first time.