More in Japan not retiring; one worked up to age 101

TOKYO • At the age of 70, when most of his friends were enjoying retirement, Mr Fukutaro Fukui took on a new job: a clerk at a lottery sales broker.

For the next 31 years, Mr Fukui had to make a one-hour-long commute to his workplace at Tokyo Takara Shokai in central Tokyo.

He retired three years ago at the age of 101, becoming one of Japan's oldest-known "salarymen", reported Nikkei Asian Review on Aug 29.

Mr Fukui, 104, said he was motivated mainly by the belief that the desire to work is a deep-seated human instinct and money should not be a primary motive.

"It does not matter what we achieved or if we were promoted. I have worked just because it is my instinct."

His three-decade job may not be the most exciting one, at least by the standards of his previous roles in finance and mergers and acquisitions: It involved mainly counting money and lottery tickets.

But the former securities house executive enjoyed it, reported Nikkei Asian Review.

"I sometimes climbed the stairs by myself to the office, carrying a suitcase with tens of thousands of lottery tickets, and even walked faster than younger colleagues," he said.

He is currently living in a retirement home in the city of Chigasaki, on the outskirts of Tokyo.

He has written a book about his life, titled Age 100: The Person Needed Forever, which was published in Japan. It was subsequently translated and sold in Indonesia, South Korea and Taiwan.

Nikkei Asian Review said that Mr Fukui's extraordinary life may become much more common in fast-ageing Japan. It said that an increasing number of elderly people are opting to return to work after their initial retirement.

According to a study published last year by the labour ministry, 82 per cent of Japanese companies have re-employed staff who had reached the retirement age.

So how is Mr Fukui coping with life after work?

He told Nikkei Asian Review: "I think I am doing a good job for 104. I still walk by myself, and I enjoy eating a lot every day!"

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 31, 2016, with the headline 'More in Japan not retiring; one worked up to age 101'. Print Edition | Subscribe