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Gov't starts work on new growth strategy, with focus on labor reform

The Japanese government started on Friday the process of crafting a new economic growth strategy, with a strong emphasis on labor reform that may lead more companies to continue employing workers past the age of 65.
Lifting the working age ceiling would serve to "realize a society where a person can remain active throughout their lifetime," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a meeting of cabinet members and private-sector leaders.
As Japan's population rapidly ages, the government's plan to change the ceiling is aimed at encouraging consumer spending and ensuring there are enough working hands in the labor market.
Under the current system, companies are required to keep employees who wish to continue working after retirement age until at least the age of 65.
The meeting attendees, who include Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso, Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, Japan Business Federation chief Hiroaki Nakanishi and Rikio Kozu, head of the Japanese Labor Union Confederation, plan to draw up an interim report by the end of the year.
They will then formulate an action plan, including a three-year road map, for Cabinet approval by next summer.
The new strategy is also expected to include reworking the Japanese corporate custom of large firms hiring new graduates en masse each spring, a legacy of a time when lifetime employment was a given.
The revamp would entail encouraging the private sector to hire more people with prior work experience, allowing for more flexible careers.
Given the rapid aging of the population, the strategy will also focus on health care designed to prevent diseases such as diabetes and forms of dementia, a government official said, as well as the development of advanced technology including artificial intelligence and the internet of things.


© KYODO
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