One in ten Japanese is over 80 years old and in remote areas of the country, the lack of transport is becoming a real issue in the face of the rapid aging of the population. The government will allow taxi drivers to work until the age of 80 to allow residents to travel.
In Japan, the government is preparing to change the law governing taxi companies. From October, the country will allow drivers to work until the age of 80. They hope to encourage certain taxis to continue offering their services in the most remote areas, where there are no more young people, no more workers and not many public transport services.
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Japan is forced to resort to increasingly extreme measures to cope with the rapid aging of its population. The authorities have released new statistics on the country’s age pyramid. Now, more than 10% of the population is over 80 years old. That’s still nearly 13 million people over 80 years old, a large proportion of whom are very old: Japan currently has 92,000 centenarians.
Regions deserted by young people and public services
They live in rural areas, where public services close one after the other. The problem is the same as in all developed countries, but it is particularly serious in Japan. At a time when the population is aging en masse, there are no more young people to replace these millions of workers who have retired. The country no longer has enough babies and every year, Japan loses more than 800,000 inhabitants. Thus, in small towns and villages, far from megacities, there is no longer anyone to take care of the mail, to manage a retirement home or to provide a bus service for the population.
The government thought that private taxi companies would compensate for this failing transport service. He plans to relax regulations so that taxis can work more freely and later. These new rules will concern areas where there are fewer than 300,000 inhabitants and will not yet apply to the country’s large cities.
A low pension and a work culture
In these more peaceful regions, the government will lower the minimum number of cars to be able to officially present itself as a taxi company. Until now, at least five cars were needed. Now, with only three vehicles, all permissions will be given and the government will therefore let the company employ drivers up to the age of 80. Before they can drive, they will have to undergo a short psychotechnical test to check that they are able to pick up passengers and work safely.
The change in regulations will apply from October. In Japan, more and more people are working until very old age. Pensions are very low and many people need to work to continue living decently. Furthermore, the culture and the relationship with work are very different from what we know in the West or in France. Older people often say that they want to feel useful to society. The latest government statistics show that a third of Japanese aged between 70 and 74 are still working.