The Yomiuri Shimbun
Increase opportunities for elderly to remain active in aging society
The average Japanese life expectancy stands at 80.5 years for men and 86.83 years for women. Both are projected to rise even more in the future. This will herald the era of 90-year life spans.
On Monday, Respect for the Aged Day, we should rejoice in the fact that Japan has become one of the world’s leading nations in terms of longevity.
Those aged 65 and over account for more than 25 percent of the overall population, and this figure is expected to reach 40 percent in 2060.
With Japan’s society aging faster, such serious problems as a shrinkage in the workforce and swelling expenses for social security programs have arisen.
It is important to increase opportunities in which the elderly who want to work can exhibit their ability so they can actively help support society. The creation of such a “society in which people actively contribute through their whole lives” will hold the key for Japan to overcome the ultra-aging of its society.
Fifty percent of those in the 35-64 age group want to continue working after 65. Aiming for the creation of a society in which people can actively contribute their whole lives will help enrich the lives of the elderly and financially stabilize their daily lives.
With the enforcement of the revised Law for the Stabilization of Employment of Elderly People in April 2013, all employees are allowed to stay on the payroll until they turn 65 if they want to. Yet the present reality is that work opportunities for those aged 65 and over are limited.
A report compiled in June by a study panel of the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry proposed measures to promote the continued employment of those aged 65 and older and to boost support for skills development and the reemployment of middle-aged and older people, with an eye to the realization of a society in which people can actively contribute their whole lives.
More company opportunities
More businesses are keeping people on after they reach 65 by having them use their knowledge and experience to serve as advisers for young workers and allowing the elderly to work flexible hours to suit their lifestyle. We hope businesses will promote such measures in conformity with their needs.
Changes in the consciousness of workers are also important. To remain active in their later years, workers must make clear plans while still young and continually work to enhance their skills.
It is also important to create labor markets in which middle-aged and older people can change jobs more easily.
The elderly differ greatly from person to person in terms of health and economic status. To meet their diverse needs, it is essential for local governments, in cooperation with such entities as local economic organizations and nonprofit organizations, to build a system that can cultivate jobs for the elderly.
It will also become a challenge for society to reinforce the functions of human resources centers that offer light work and other suitable jobs to elderly people.
The government of Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture, has created job opportunities for elderly people in the farming and welfare sectors, under the concept of “offering jobs to help elderly people make their lives worth living.”
The prefectural government of Fukuoka has established a center to help elderly people find jobs or take part in volunteer activities until they reach the age of 70, or even older in some cases.
These efforts should help solve local problems, by, for instance, making up for labor shortages in nursing care and child care.
Expanding opportunities for elderly people to take an active role in society will also prevent them from becoming isolated in society and declining to the point that they need nursing care.
(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 21, 2015)