Ageing Labour Forces
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Ageing Labour Forces

Promises and Prospects

Edited by Philip Taylor

This provocative book considers the changing status of older workers, the evolution of public policy on age and work and the behaviour of employers. It attempts to answer the critical question: in an ageing society, can older workers look forward to the prospect of longer working lives with choice and security and make successful transitions to retirement?
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Chapter 2: Japan: Towards Employment Extension for Older Workers

Masato Oka


Masato Oka INTRODUCTION This chapter evaluates recent developments in policies for the employment promotion of older workers in Japan. The first section provides a profile of older workers in the national labour market context. The second summarizes the development of public policies for older workers, in particular, focusing on the 2004 Amendment Law on Stabilization of Employment of Older Persons. The third section analyses firms’ behaviour in response to public policies. Concluding remarks will offer suggestions for a new Japanese-style personnel management system, which may provide a means of achieving age-free employment. OLDER WORKERS IN PROFILE Demographic Change and Workforce Ageing Japan has been experiencing the most rapid population ageing in the world. The percentage of those aged 65 or over was 7 per cent in 1970, 14 per cent in 1994, and is estimated to be 25 per cent in 2014 (National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, hereafter NIPSSR, 2002). The causes can be seen in declining fertility rates and increasing longevity. The fertility rate decreased dramatically from 3.65 in 1950 to 1.29 in 2003, and may decrease further. On the other hand, life expectancy increased by approximately 20 years from 1950 to 2000 (Statistics Bureau, Abridged Life Table). It will increase further, to 79.8 for men and 87.5 for women by 2025. Recent statistics show that the size of the Japanese population peaked in 2005 at 130 million, and is estimated to decrease in the following decades (NIPSSR, 2006). Figure 2.1 shows the age...

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