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Workforce Trends – “Japan Braces for ‘Unprecedented’ Aging Society”

Posted on June 25, 2007
Filed Under Asia, Global Staffing Perspectives, Recruitment Industry | 3 Comments

The most vivid depiction of how demographics will impose manpower shortages I have read to date.

Japan will become an “unprecedented” society of old people by mid-century at current birthrates, the government warned Friday, forcing the country to think about persuading retired people back into work.

In an annual report on aging, the government forecast that two in every five people will be 65 or older by 2055 if the trends of a low birthrate and high life-expectancy continue.

“Japan is likely to become an unprecedented aging society like no other country in the world has ever experienced,” the document said.

It urged people to “review their fixed ideas and change their mindsets to see elderly people as precious manpower who support an aging society.”

The government has struggled to persuade Japanese to produce more children, with many young people finding families a burden on their lifestyles or careers.

The trend spells a future crisis, with a smaller working population having to support a mass of elderly. Japan has rejected large-scale immigration.

Japan has already surpassed Italy as having the world’s oldest population, and in 2006 people aged 65 or older accounted for a record 20.8 percent of the population of 127.77 million.

The ratio of elderly people is expected to increase to 40.5 percent of the population in 2055, the report said.

Japan has a retirement age of 60, but nearly two-thirds of men between the ages of 65 and 69 are keeping their jobs. The percentage of women in the same age range holding jobs was much lower at 28.5 percent.

“Many elderly people have strong desire to participate in social activities in their communities, but those desires are not always realised,” it added.

“If they have time, elderly people can be put to use to support families and people who need help, which will reduce the shortage of manpower and curb elderly people’s isolation from society.”

It recommended the expansion of consultation services set up in some communities that assist elderly people who are looking to stay active.

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3 Responses to “Workforce Trends – “Japan Braces for ‘Unprecedented’ Aging Society””

  1. Carol Marttini on June 26th, 2007 11:12 am

    Hi Dave,
    First thanks for a great newsletter. There was an article on aging in Japan that I just received that, with your permission, I would like to send to my clients with your name and contact points in the credits.

    Would that be possible?
    Carol Marttini

  2. Gary Bremermann on June 28th, 2007 10:32 pm

    Hi Dave,

    The reality on the ground here in Japan is that age discrimination is rampant and talented and qualified professionals are denied opportunities simply because of their age.

    Generally, those in their 50s are often considered “too old” for skilled professional jobs and job-seekers in that age bracket face an uphill battle. It is sad to see super-talented people with so much value to offer struggle in the face of this discrimation.

    For low-skilled entry level jobs there will inevitably be less resistance towards utilizing older workers, but there is also a need for people here to ““review their fixed ideas and change their mindsets” about ageism across the board so that skilled professionals can have access to opportunities based on their abilities and not on their age.

    Thanks for sharing this great article!


    Gary Bremermann
    Tokyo, Japan

  3. Alvaro on July 21st, 2007 10:00 pm

    Dave, great post on a topic of growing importance.

    You may enjoy the article Ten Important Truths About Aging just published in The Complete Lawyer,, and co-authored by renowned neuroscientist Dr. Elkhonon Goldberg and myself:

    – Aging Means Lifelong Development, Not Automatic Decline
    – Some Skills Improve With Age
    – Some Skills Need To Be Continuously Nurtured And Trained
    – Not All Instances Of Forgetting Are Of Equal Concern
    – We Are In Control, To A Large Extent
    – There Are Four “Pillars Of Brain Health”
    – Cross-Training Our Brains Builds Up Cognitive Reserve
    – Computer-Based Brain Exercise Programs Can Help
    – Embrace “Good” Stress; Eliminate “Bad” Stress
    – Retirement Is Overrated