Accepted paper:

Prolonging working life in Japan: issues and practices for companies


Julien Martine (University Paris Diderot - Paris 7)
Jacques Jaussaud (University of Pau (UPPA))

Paper short abstract:

This contribution aims to identify and discuss management practices developed by some Japanese companies to support the necessary extension in terms of age of employment of their employees.

Paper long abstract:

The ageing of the population faced by Japan since the 1970s has opened up an in-depth debate on the funding of its pay-as-you go pension system. The chosen solution, inspired by advances in life expectancy and improved individuals' health, has been the lengthening of the contribution period, which consequently extends the working life of employees. This choice is reflected in public employment policies that encourage companies to employ and retain middle-aged workers. In the 1960s, the Japanese government focused on reducing discriminatory practices in hiring senior workers and imposed quotas of older workers in companies in the 1970s. Then it began to take more radical measures aimed at raising the age of mandatory retirement to 60 in the mid 1980s and to 65 in the early 2000s. Today Japanese companies must adapt to this new environment. Extending working life, however, implies many challenges for Human Resource Management in many areas: payroll management, balance of the age structure, working time arrangements, ergonomic workplace design, management of occupational health, improvement and adaptation of training program, etc. Since 2009, we have conducted several interviews with Japanese companies considered as progressive in the employment of senior workers. In this presentation, we propose to identify the practices developed by these companies to support the continued employment of older workers. We will also discuss, on the basis of the theoretical literature, the implications and limitations of these practices.

panel S6_08
Towards a political and economic 'new deal' in Japanese employment polices and practices? Exploring the social and psychological impact of prolonging the working life of older employees in Japan