April 21, 2019
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OECD warns of Japan’s ageing population, discrimination against women

Tokyo, Apr 15 (efe-epa).- The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development warned Monday of the risks Japan faces due to its ageing population and also drew attention to continuing discrimination against women at the workplace.

In 2017, there were 50 Japanese people aged 65 per hundred, while the rest were aged between 20 to 64, and this ratio is projected to rise to 79 per hundred in 2050, according to a report presented by OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria on Monday.

"Half of the children born in Japan in 2017 are expected to live to the age of 107," Gurria said during the presentation.

This implies that, unless a series of reforms are implemented, Japan will lose its working-age population by 25 percent in 2050, according to the predictions of the Paris-based international organization.

The official estimates contained in the report indicate that if in 2018, social spending on elderly population accounted for 18.8 percent of the Gross Domestic Product, in 2060, it will be 23.2 percent if certain measures are not undertaken.

Among them, Gurria mentioned the need to revise the mandatory retirement age, which is 65 years, although 80 percent of Japanese companies set it at 60 years.

The report also highlighted a lack of career growth for the Japanese despite an increase in employment levels.

Gurria said that although more and more women are now stepping out to work in Japan, they are still under-represented in leadership positions.

For example, the OECD secretary general said that the wage gap between men and women in Japan is the third highest among OECD member countries, surpassed only by that of Estonia and South Korea.

In Japan, the world's third largest economy, only 10 percent of the members of the Lower House of the Japanese parliament are women, according to Gurria.

Japan also has the second lowest share of women in managerial positions among the OECD member countries, ahead of only Korea, and has the least number of female doctors among the 36 members of the organization.

Japan is also placed fourth - surpassed by only Turkey, Portugal and Mexico - in terms of the time women spend on doing household work as compared to men.

The OECD's recommendations for Japan includes increasing the number of foreign workers in the country as Japan has the third-lowest number of foreign workers, more than only Poland and Mexico.

In the press conference, Gurria also highlighted the decision taken by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government to increase the value added tax from 8 percent to 10 percent in October, which will serve to gradually reduce the country's budget deficit.

Gurria said that, among OECD member countries, only Canada has a VAT lower than Japan and thereby recommended progressive increases of one percentage point in Japan in subsequent years.

ag/pd/nb

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