A government report released Friday says that by the year 2060, 40 percent of Japan’s population will be 65 years of age or older, and that the country’s economic security depends on keeping those over the traditional retirement age productive. The white paper released by the cabinet office said that with the labor force shrinking as it is, it is necessary to keep ageing people participating in the labor market and social activities. According to the paper, many seniors indicate a desire to continue economic activity, but that it can be difficult for older people to find jobs.
As of last October, 29.75 million people, 23.3 percent of the population, were 65 or older. This marked an all-time high for the country, and gives Japan one of the largest elderly populations in the world relative to overall population size. Japan’s population is growing older as it grows smaller due to young people putting off having families, which are often seen as a drag on careers and lifestyles. The sluggish economy has also caused many young people to be reluctant to start families.
Japanese society will suffer a great number of difficulties as its population ages, not the least of which will be the pinch on the government’s finances, which have already been pressed by twenty years of economic stagnation. The funds required for social security benefits will increase as the number of people reaching retirement age increases, with public debt already twice as large as GDP, the government will find it very difficult to meet its growing obligations.