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Society The oldest female McDonald's Japan staffer: ninety years old


Unswerving cyclist
14 Mar 2002
Is this the future of Japan's labour force?

One 90-year-old worker at a McDonald's outlet in Kumamoto continues energetically greeting younger patrons and coworkers with a smile.


Photo credit: Mainichi/Keiko Yamaguchi

At 7:30 a.m., Tamiko Honda picks up a dustpan and broom and starts sweeping outside the McDonald's in Kumamoto's busy Shimotori shopping district. "I've had back pain for a few days now," she said with a wry smile during a recent interview with the Mainichi Shimbun ahead of Respect for the Aged Day on Sept. 18. With a steady step, she swiftly goes about collecting trash from the gutter and road. Honda commutes 20 minutes by bus from her home in the city's Nishi Ward five days a week, resting on Wednesdays and Sundays. She works three hours from 7:30 a.m., mainly the "Morning Mac" hours. She's been on board at the eatery for 23 years, since 2000.

She isn't the oldest staffer: according to Tokyo-based McDonald's Japan, the oldest staffer in the chain's approximately 3,000 outlets is a 95-year-old man in Toyama Prefecture. Honda is the oldest female currently employed by the company and has worked there longer than the Toyama employee.

I'm assuming she doesn't have to work but wants to work.
yeah she seemed to be the kind of person who thrives on work and routine, so it seems good for her (and hopefully a choice just for some pocket money, as she's only working a few hours a day). I remember watching and thinking back to 2007 when a bunch of pensions went up in smoke and forced the elderly back into the workforce, and also the thought of older workers competing with young people not being particularly fair to either. But also with the shifting demographics, the pool of people working in Japan will continue to age, and this will be a more common sight.

The only winner seems to be the mega-corporation, who gets free advertising both for their products by proxy, and as an employer of at least one happy nonagenarian.

Hence the mixed feelings swirling around...
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