The first group of 6.7 million baby boomers, born in the years 1947-49, have reached or will reach the retirement age of 60 this year. About 3.6 million of them — almost equivalent to the population of Yokohama — are expected to retire as salaried workers in 2007-09. As they reach the age of 60, they must make an important decision on what kind of new life they will pursue.

In April 2006, the revised law for aged workers employment stabilization went into force. In principle it requires firms to prolong the mandatory retirement age in phases to 65 by April 1, 2013, or to devise a system to continue to employ workers who have reached 60 and want to continue to work until they reach 65. This is in accordance with the phased raising of the age at which payment of the “basic portion” of pensions begins.

Some baby boomers may choose to stay in the same companies. The Japan Institute for Labor Policy and Training says that 61 percent of workers want to continue working at the same job after they reach 60. It also says that 84 percent of firms with 300 or more workers and the continued-employment system continue to employ 70 percent or more of employees who have reached 60 and want to continue to work.

Other choices for retiring baby boomers include concentrating on their hobbies, starting a new life in their native places or the countryside, or dedicating themselves to volunteer activities. The city of Nantan in Kyoto Prefecture is inviting retirees to live in its more than 200 abandoned traditional houses with thatched roofs. The Gifu Prefectural Board of Education will set up a human resources bank to attract baby boomers with teaching licenses (but not limited to former teachers) to serve as auxiliary teachers.

Government-approved specific nonprofit organizations are also looking for baby boomers because they can immediately contribute their experience and skills to the organizations’ activities in such fields as social welfare, social education, and promotion of arts, sports and academic activities. If they make the effort, baby boomers should be able to find life-fulfilling opportunities.

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