Until what age are Japanese people going to work?

Since my parents live in the Kansai region of Japan, I use the Kansai International Airport or Osaka (Itami) Airport when I go back to Japan. It is pleasant to go back to Japan to see my family and friends, but I feel uncomfortable every time I take airport limousine buses to travel between my hometown and those airports.

When I get on a limousine bus, there are one or two men to help to load passengers’ suitcases and luggage in the trunk of the bus. What makes me feel sad is that all of those workers, without exception, are men who are much older than me.

The maximum weight of checked baggage is usually 23 kg with major airline companies. If it’s a long flight across the ocean, we are allowed to bring two 23 kg bags per person in economy class. Therefore, each piece of my luggage has 20 kg at least.

20 kg is quite heavy, I suppose.

Every time I see those old Japanese guys carrying lots of bags and boxes to put in the trunk, I can’t stop thinking, “Isn’t something wrong here?”

I travel a lot. I often take buses abroad. However, when I take buses in other countries, the people who put luggage in the trunk and do heavy work are usually younger or at least middle-aged. I haven’t seen anywhere else but Japan that all of the workers for heavy luggage are elderly people who are almost at the age of retirement.

Why does Japan need older people to work so hard? Is this something wrong with the social structure?

My father is over 70 years old, but still works as a self-employed person. When I think about him, I can’t imagine what he would do all day after retirement.

There are some reasons for elder Japanese people to continue working after 60 or 70. For most of them, work must be the biggest part of their lives and they don’t know what to do if they don’t have a job.

Also, some people might think that working is helpful for them to be in good shape or to keep connected to society. However, do they have to do that hard work? Or, do they only work two hours per week, as if people work out in the gym? — I don’t think so.

It’s just depressing to see such old men doing hard work if they have to do it only to make a living.

I sometimes talk about retirement with my boyfriend and friends here, in Canada. The difference here is that people are looking forward to life after retirement. How many Japanese people are excited about planing after retirement?

I am a writer. I don’t think I will be retired from writing until my brain stops working. Many Japanese people would say that I am lucky to have an ideal job which I love to do so much. I hope that the working situation for elderly people in Japan will change in the future, even if they have to continue working.