viernes, 14 de octubre de 2016

Japan's retirees: industrial waste or a silver lining?

Working after retirement is not something many plan for, especially in Japan, where most white collar workers - known as salarymen - still devote their lives to one employer for an average of four decades.

Self-study activity:
Watch the video and answer the questions.

1 What is the retirement age in Japan?
2 What does Koreisha mean in Japanese?
3 What are some of the occupations retirees can choose from in Koreisha?
4 What is the reason why Japanese retired workers want to work?
5 What does 'one third' refer to?
6 What is one of the problems retirees have to face when working after retirement?

Tending to a client's rooftop garden in central Tokyo. Three years after retiring from his lifelong employment with Tokyo Gas, 68-year-old Rikizo Takano signed up for part-time work. This is the company which got him the gig. Koreisha means "the elderly" in Japanese. Its mission is to help retirees who are still keen to be part of the country's workforce. Today it has over 750 registered members. The average age is 69, with the oldest at 81 years old. They can choose from various assignments, such as cooking at restaurants or being personal drivers.
At our age, most of us don't want to work full-time, but putting in two to three days a week doesn't affect pensions, and being able to earn an extra 1000 US dollars a month is nice. But more than that, our members say it's great to be able to work again, because myself included, we feel like our energy and talent is wasted.
Japan has one of the fastest ageing populations in the world, and it is a burden on the economy, with a falling birth rate, it means there are fewer people paying social security. Spending on health care and pensions already accounts for a third of the national budget, and it's ballooning fast. But instead of doing away with the old, the Government wants companies and communities to see them as a silver lining.
Here in Kashiwa, these retired businessmen greet the children every morning and make sure they get to school safely. 75-year-old Masatoshi Tsuneno is the leader of the group, and he's been volunteering for ten years.
He says the key to a successful transition after retirement is to shake up the hierarchy entrenched in the working world.
I was an engineer for a company, he told me. But he won't discuss his professional past. He says it's important for people in his group to be able to treat each other equally, even if someone was a chief executive or diplomat.
It’s the end of the academic year and the school children have put together this surprise ceremony to thank the volunteers. The mix of young and old has been a hit for this community, but it's still a rare success story.
Mariko Oi, BBC News, in Kashiwa.

1 65
2 the elderly
3 cooking at restaurants or being personal drivers
4 they feel their energy and talent is wasted
5 public spending out of the national budget on health care and pensions 
6 the traditional hierarchy of Japanese companies is difficult to get rid of