The Mainichi Shimbun answers some common questions readers may have about pensions in Japan -- particularly when people who have paid into the system can start receiving benefits and how much those payments are.
Question: My grandfather is 67 years old and still works every day. Would he be receiving pension payments?
Answer: If his income is sufficient, he is probably delaying the start of his pension payment period. In principle, one can start receiving pension money from the age of 65. However, it is now possible to push back the start of the payments until one reaches the age of 70. The later one starts receiving their pension money, the higher the amount of the monthly payment.
Q: How much does the monthly payment increase?
A: Each month the period is pushed back, the payment rises 0.7 percent. If one decides to start receiving their pension money at 70 years old rather than 65, the payments can be as much as 42 percent higher. A monthly payment of 100,000 yen can become some 140,000 yen. The system is set up this way so that regardless of whether one begins the payment period at 65 or 70, if one lives an average lifespan, the total amount of money received is about the same.
Q: Is the system beneficial for those who continue to work after 65?
A: The number of people who choose to delay their payments is reportedly low. It's said that efforts to explain the system more clearly are needed. A group of researchers debating countermeasures for Japan's rapidly aging society proposed to the government on Oct. 2 that it should be made possible to delay the payment period even further to increase options for the elderly -- with some even suggesting the possibility of delaying the start period to as late as 75 years old.
Q: But it's hard to earn enough income not to need support from pension payments, isn't it?
A: Exactly. Many companies have yet to enact policies allowing employees to work even after 65 years old. Currently, people between the age of 60 and 70 can choose when to start receiving their pension. However, the proportion of people who choose to start payments before the age of 65 is still the highest by a long margin. (Answers by Takeshi Noda, Medical Welfare News Department)