The Dwindling Japan Pension System

The Japan Financial Services Agency recently announced that due to the dwindling amount of reserves available and the declining birth rate, the current generation of young people is expected to be unable to receive the same amount of pension payouts as the current generation of retirees.

Currently, a household of an unemployed married couple aged 65 and 60 years old receives about 200,000+ a month while the average household expense is at about 260,000+. That is a shortfall of over 50,000 yen per month. This means, if they live another 20-30 years, that would be a shortfall of between 13 million and 20 million yen. Therefore, the government is urging young people now to plan for their future by spending less, saving more, and investing. This obviously drew the ire of the young with many claiming that this is but a scam, a broken promise, and requests for the government to at least return what they paid into it.

One comment that stood out online picked up by the late night news said that the pension system fell into this state because young people refuse to vote. While I can’t comment on the factuality of that statement, I find it shocking that the voting turnout rate in Japan is only a little over 50% when in Singapore, it’s over 90%.

It’s been said to death that Japan needs foreign workers but the system and culture doesn’t seem to create an environment that promotes such a policy yet. According to a survey conducted monthly for Reuters by Nikkei Research that polled 477 large- and mid-size firms on the new immigration law that plans to bring in some 350,000 blue collar workers in the next 5 years, some 41% of firms say they do not intend to hire foreigners at all, 34% do not plan to hire many and only 26% have plans to hire such foreign workers. Of those considering hiring, a majority said they have no plans to support them in areas such as housing, Japanese language study and information on living in the country.

But hiring aside, I do not blame the companies on not supporting their staff because I myself have never received such support, so I don’t see the crucial need for it. With the increasing number of English support services regarding housing, phone lines and what not, even without support, workers should be able to get by. It’s true that I had some level of Japanese language understanding when I first arrived, but I know people without any knowledge of Japanese settling down by themselves getting by living here for years. I feel that humans are like that. When you put them in a situation where they have to do everything by themselves, they will be able to do it. But throw them a translator to assist them, suddenly they can’t do anything at all.

If nothing gets done, perhaps it’s not such a great idea to be a permanent resident here. Although I won’t be able to get back all the sum paid into pension, I could still get back a small percentage of it when I leave. I’ve still got some time to think about it.

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