Japan’s pensioners stay in labor force to keep nation’s economy moving

Global Business

Japan's pensioners stay in labor force to keep nation's economy moving2

One’s twilight years are supposed to be a time of relaxation, pursuing hobbies and spending time with grandchildren. But that’s not the case for 86-year-old Teruo Suguira.

CCTV America’s Ahmad Coo reports.

Japan\\\'s pensioners stay in labor force to keep nation\\\'s economy moving

Japan\\\'s pensioners stay in labor force to keep nation\\\'s economy moving

One’s twilight years are supposed to be a time of relaxation, pursuing hobbies and spending time with grandchildren. But that’s not the case for 86 year-old Teruo Suguira. CCTV America’s Ahmad Coo reports.

Suguira has been showing up at local seniors’ work center for the last 20 years to repair traditional Japanese sliding doors. The pay isn’t much, but Suguira doesn’t mind.

“There’s no point staying at home, twiddling my thumbs. At least I’m happy working here and I like the company,” he said.

Suguira is just one among the countless elderly Japanese who’ve returned to work after retiring.

He’s among the estimated 7 million pensioners who are still working in Japan.

Japan has the oldest population in the world with more than a quarter of its population 65 years old or older. Its birthrate is among the lowest in the world.

Those two factors combined to shrink the population by a million people between 2010 and 2015.

As the population dwindles, so will the workforce. That’s why the government is changing retirement rules to ease the coming labor crunch. It has raised the eligibility age for pensions to 65 from 60 years old. 

But Japanese economists said that will be a good thing for Japan.

“Increasing the number of active workers will be a driving force of economic growth and also growing number of active consumers will also be a driving force of economic growth in the demand side,” Atsushi Seike, Keio University, said.

Most seniors stay in the labor force because they need the money. Some said their pensions won’t cover the cost of nursing homes and health care.

“It costs around $2,200 to $2,700 a month for full service, I can’t do that with my pension so I am putting money aside every month from what I earn here to plan ahead,” Taeko Mishima, working pensioner, said.

Economists said having its elderly population work beyond retirement is just a stopgap measure. That’s why the government is fast-tracking reforms that will grant skilled migrants permanent residency.

But some warn it’ll take time for the reforms to take effect and attract more skilled foreign workers to Japan.

In the meantime, pensioners will continue to play a major role in keeping the Japanese economy chugging along, something they have been doing for most of their lives.