The National Personnel Authority's latest proposal to extend the mandatory retirement age for national government workers to 65 from the current 60 is in step with the government's push to keep older workers in the labor market — to make up for the accelerating manpower shortage as the nation's population rapidly ages and declines and to help shore up the sustainability of social security programs. The move is also reportedly intended to prod more private sector companies as well as local governments to follow suit.

A similar past attempt by the government floundered after it was criticized for favoring only public sector workers. Given the demographic challenges confronting the nation, the need to encourage more senior workers to stay in the labor force — and under better terms — is even more pressing today. The program should be pursued along with other policy steps so more people can keep working after they turn 60 in decent conditions in both the private and public sectors.

The government said last year it would weigh extending the retirement age of civil servants, and the personnel authority's proposal made to the Diet and the Cabinet in early August follows up on that decision. A plan weighed by the government calls for extending the retirement age by one year every three years beginning in fiscal 2021, until it is raised to 65 in 2033. To prevent a sharp increase in the government's total manpower expenses, the personnel authority's draft says the salary of workers who have turned 60 will be cut to roughly 70 percent of what they had previously earned.