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Japanese PM pushes labor reforms with focus on work past age 65

The Japanese government will consider a new law requiring companies to retain workers on the payroll beyond age 65, the Nikkei Asian Review reported. The move is part of Japan's efforts to deal with labor shortages that have forced the country to employ foreign workers.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is chairing a government panel Oct. 5 to start talks on a three-year plan to sustain the economy through the October 2019 consumption tax hike and beyond the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. Employment is one of the key points of the plan.

This comes at a time when the IMF called for on Japan to come up with a "reinvigorated and credible" version of the so-called Abenomics policy to sustain economic growth.

For most companies, 60 remains the standard retirement age. To comply with the law, many companies have rehired workers instead of raising the retirement age, reducing their pay in the process. The government wants to ensure older workers are paid a fair wage.

Another proposal allows people to receive public pension payouts after they reach age 70, part of a move to encourage people to stay in the workforce longer.

Another plan is to encourage companies to hire more mid-career professionals instead of new university graduates once or twice a year.

The plan will also promote new technologies such as artificial intelligence to increase productivity and enhance the quality of life despite an aging population. Some proposals under this scheme include a new category of driver's license for elderly people who use vehicles with driver-assistance systems and raising the limit on mobile payment transactions from ¥1 million.

Abe, who won a third straight race for leadership of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in September, is said to push again for labor-related legislation such as easing rules on overtime pay despite resistance from the opposition party.

As of Oct. 4, US$1 was equivalent to ¥113.83.