Japan Mimics U.S. In Shifting Retirement Age

As the U.S. begins shifting the age for eligibility for government retirement benefits from 65 to 67, changes also are underway in Japan to make the retirement age later. Negotiations began this month among company unions and 10 of the 17 major Japanese electronics companies to lift the mandatory retirement age at those firms from 60 to 65. The talks were prompted by the government's recent decision to gradually increase -- beginning in 2001 -- the age at which public pension payments start in Japan until it hits 65 in 2013. A novel twist to the negotiations: employees in Japan are likely to still "retire" at age 60 with their retirement allowance, but stay on and work at a lower wage until government benefits kick in at 65. Should the electronics companies work out that compromise, it would likely trigger similar changes in other Japanese industries.

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