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.