Japan, short of workers, eyes hiking optional pension age beyond 70

A man works a machine at a factory in one of Japan's provinces. (Shutterstock)
Updated 17 February 2018
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Japan, short of workers, eyes hiking optional pension age beyond 70

TOKYO: Japan has okayed plans to let people choose to start drawing their state pensions beyond the age of 70 as it grapples with severe labor shortages, ballooning welfare costs and a shrivelling tax base stemming from its greying population.
The government said on Friday it would look to cement the proposals through legal changes after April 2020, adding that it would look at raising in stages the mandatory retirement age for some 3.4 million civil servants to 65 from the current 60.
Japanese people can currently choose to start receiving their pensions at any point between the ages of 60 and 70, with bigger monthly payments offered to those who do so after their 65th birthdays.
The policies may offer clues to how countries from Germany and Italy to China and South Korea could deal with the challenges sparked by their own aging societies, from a lack of workers to spiralling welfare spending.
Japan has the world’s highest life expectancy, while the number of births last year fell to their lowest since records began over a century ago. Its population will shrink to 88 million from the current 127 million in the next four decades, the government estimates.
The grim demographics, coupled with a reluctance to loosen tight immigration rules, have led to the worst labor shortages since the early 1970s. The squeeze stifles the potency of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic policies, the International Monetary Fund has said.
Abe has pushed for more elderly people to remain in work and stay active in later life, as part of his “work style” reforms aimed at revving up economic growth and productivity. The government said on Friday it would also support companies that raise their mandatory retirement age.
Most Japanese companies require full-time employees to retire at 60. The system is a keystone of Japan’s traditional jobs-for-life employment structure where workers are virtually guaranteed employment from graduation to retirement.
More than half are planning to raise the retirement age, a Reuters poll last year showed.


Footballer Kompany’s dad first black mayor in Belgium

Updated 49 min 11 sec ago
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Footballer Kompany’s dad first black mayor in Belgium

  • Pierre Kompany, 71, arrived in Belgium in 1975 as a refugee from what was then Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Kompany was head of the centrist CDH list in Sunday’s municipal election in Ganshoren, a bilingual French and Dutch speaking town of 25,000

BRUSSELS: Pierre Kompany, the father of Manchester City captain and Belgian international defender Vincent, became Belgium’s first black elected mayor on Monday after his party topped the poll in the Brussels suburb Ganshoren.
Pierre Kompany, 71, arrived in Belgium in 1975 as a refugee from what was then Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo, and has since been naturalized as a citizen and entered politics.
He was head of the centrist CDH list in Sunday’s municipal election in Ganshoren, a bilingual French and Dutch speaking town of 25,000 just outside the Belgian capital, and will take office in December.
“He’s the first black mayor in Belgium,” Vincent declared on Instagram. “It has never happened before. It’s historic. We’re all delighted. Bravo to my father.”
In 2014, a local councillor of Congolese origin, Denis Liselele, served as temporary mayor in the Belgian town of Sambreville after the elected town leader was suspended during a court case.