As a firm evidence of Japan’s growing elderly population, recently released government data shows that Japan’s number of workers aged 60 years and above reached record highs in 2012. Japan’s elderly workers – numbering at 11.92 million in 2012 – make up almost 20 percent of the country’s workforce.
According to Japan’s Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry, these numbers in 2012 rose by 170,000 from the year before it. In just a span of 10 years, the number of elderly workers increased by 3.1 million, a growth of almost 5 percent of the total of the whole workforce in that span of time. The ministry said that these numbers began surging in 2007, as a lot of “baby boomers” born in the late 1940s began turning 60. This is also a reflection on the state of the country’s pension system. Mandatory retirement was set at 60 years before 2006, after which a law revision required companies to keep paying elderly employees 60 to 65 years old if they wished to continue working. Of all people aged 60 to 64 in Japan, more than half of those – at 57.7 percent – continued to work in 2012. A lot of elderly people choose to work, because the amount of pension has also decreased. The government is also reacting to the phenomenon, raising the age requirement at which one can get pension. But the huge number of elderly people in the country is simply overwhelming the system.
Japan has the highest percentage of elderly people in its population, and it makes sense that these numbers will continue to increase. A falling birthrate is not helping the situation at all – as evidenced by most working women being traumatized at the lack of daycare centers in the country. Meanwhile, amidst all these numbers, the number of employees aged 15 to 59 decreased by around 3.7 million since 2002, totaling around 50.78 million in 2012. Specifically, the number younger employees aged 15 to 29 decreased by 3.2 million.