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In his speech at the January conference of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe noted that while Japan’s labor force decreased by 4.5 million over the past six years, the employment of women and elderly people increased by 2 million each.

As the nation’s population continues to fall, the government last year amended the immigration control law to accept more workers from abroad. But the foreign workers coming to Japan under the new program are expected to number only about 345,000 in five years. To achieve sustainable growth of the economy, a continued increase in the labor market participation of women and the elderly will be indispensable. In particular, there are hopes of greater roles for the elderly in the nation’s workforce given the rapid aging of the population and its increasing longevity. However, Japan has a set of peculiar problems in the employment of elderly workers.

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