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Retail

Japan retailer pushes limit of retirement age, making 80 the new 65

Labor crunch forces electronics chain Nojima to keep experienced sales staff

A Nojima store in the Tokyo suburb of Chofu: Older sales employees are a valuable resource for the electronics retailer. (Photo courtesy of Nojima)

TOKYO -- Electronics retailer Nojima has decided to let employees work until they are 80 years old if they choose to, raising its retirement age from 65 to retain experienced workers in a graying Japan.

The offer applies to all of the Yokohama-based company's roughly 3,000 employees, including store sales staff. 

From next spring, Japanese companies will be required to make an effort to employ workers until age 70, but Nojima's move goes 10 years beyond that. It could spur followers in the retail sector, which relies heavily on human capital but faces a looming labor shortage like the rest of Japan.

Yoshiyuki Tanaka, an executive officer at Nojima, said the company wants "a wide range of senior employees to play active roles regardless of location."

Nojima is one of the Tokyo area's biggest electronics retailers, operating big box stores that compete with larger chains like Yamada Denki. Unlike some rivals, Nojima does not rely on sales representatives from manufacturers at its stores. Senior sales staff members, with their extensive product knowledge and customer service skills, are a valuable resource.

Employees choosing to stay on past 65 will be asked to renew their employment contracts every year. Details such as work conditions and pay have yet to be worked out.

The upper limit is now set at 80 in consideration of physical strength and stamina, but Nojima will consider ways to let workers stay on beyond that age.

Other retailers in Japan are moving in a similar direction. Tokyo-area supermarket operator Summit has raised its retirement age to 75.

With the coronavirus pandemic spurring teleworking Japan, Nojima will also consider ways for seniors to work at home to reduce the stress of commuting and long hours of standing in stores. Rival chain Bic Camera allows sales staff at some locations to answer customers' questions remotely through monitors set up in stores.

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