Learn how Japan creates work suitability for seniors

Japanese salaryman Fukutaro Fukui, 104, retired as a clerk only three years ago, at the age of 101 ("Greying Japan's big silver workforce"; Monday).

Prior to that, he had been making the one-hour commute to his workplace in central Tokyo ("More in Japan not retiring; one worked up to age 101"; Aug 31).

If older Singaporeans are to emulate Mr Fukui's work discipline, they need to rethink their concept of retirement.

Given that Singaporeans are more educated and living longer, it is imperative that they continue working for as long as they can.

Retiring early may put them in a vulnerable situation where they risk running out of savings.

This will impose a heavy burden not only on the young but also on the rest of society.

It is heartening to know that more than 40 per cent of Singaporeans aged 65 to 69 were still working last year, compared with just 24 per cent in 2006 ("More remaining in workforce past 65"; March 7). I believe this is due to enforced legislation and other measures, such as raising the retirement age and reducing the costs of hiring older workers.

Like Singapore, Japan is also grappling with a fast-ageing population. However, the Japanese are well ahead in terms of greater participation of older workers in the labour force.

Perhaps we could learn from Japan in the areas of work suitability for seniors, be it regular, part time, contract or commission-based.

More importantly, it is good for older people to be engaged in jobs they are passionate about and could never imagine retiring from.

Jeffrey Law Lee Beng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 21, 2016, with the headline 'Learn how Japan creates work suitability for seniors'. Subscribe