Challenge of modern retirement

I have the opportunity to hold seminars for those who have worked in traditional Japanese companies, to give them hints on living a happy life after they retire. In former times, seminar participants tended to be eager to know how far their pension benefits would go and how to practice a thrifty lifestyle to get by. These days, I think, the contents have slightly changed.

Nowadays they want to know how to get along with their wives and their community. Their wives may not have the stomach to spend a lot of time with their husbands — “ex-corporate worriers.”

I’ve found a lot of participants agonizing over what subjects they should talk about with their wives and what to do as a hobby. It seems their entire lives have been devoted to their companies. We also see some retirees at department stores and libraries in a tie and jacket, just sitting on benches to kill time without purpose.

Their wives seem to have gotten used to living alone and knowing how to live meaningfully, since they shouldered all the responsibilities for a child-rearing household over the years.

It is easy to surmise why children of these people should not want to live the same life and become fed up with Japanese society. To be sure, the low birthrate and the graying society have been much talked about and a lot of things are pointed out as causes. But I suppose a big cause is society itself, and the companies that have produced colorless, drab, formalistic employees.

shuichi john watanabe

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.