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Age and aging are the big issues facing Japan. This is one of the fastest aging countries in the world, with 35.6 million people 65 or older in 2018, accounting for 28.1 percent of the population. It is estimated that 32.8 percent of the population will be 65 or older by 2035 — a figure that will rise to 38.6 percent by 2065. Although the rapid aging of the population has been anticipated for more than a decade now, it is in the last few years that awareness of the reality has hit home and not a day passes without news on this topic.

Recent issues concerning age and aging include 1) a heated debate and concern over the report on public pension system by a panel of the Financial Services Agency; 2) recommendations for the elderly to voluntarily give up their driver’s licenses; 3) a proposal to hire able-bodied elderly people to serve as assistants to professional care staff; and 4) a government request for companies to continue employing workers beyond the age of 65. While not directly related to aging per se, recent moves by companies to abolish the seniority wage system are among the efforts to depart from an age-driven system to one based on merit.

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