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Friday, 24 March, 2000, 09:57 GMT
Pensions crisis in Japan

Japan's upper house of parliament has passed a law aimed at drastically reducing pension payments to private sector workers.

It's the latest move in what's being described as a demographic tidal wave sweeping Japan -- caused by a rapidly ageing population.

Because the country's birth rate is also in sharp decline, it's feared there will soon be too few working people to pay for the pensions of those in retirement.

The new legislation will also gradually raise the age at which people can receive pensions -- from sixty to sixty-five. The BBC correspondent in Tokyo says that although the changes are not popular, most people feel they are inevitable, given the number of pensioners in Japan. The bill is expected to get final approval next week.

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