I am reading "Ikigai" by H.Garcia and F.Miralles, and I've just read the following paragraph:

There is, in fact, no word in Japanese that means retire in the sense of "leaving the workforce for good" as in English. According to Dan Buettner, a National Geographic reporter who knows the country well, having a purpose in life is so important in Japanese culture that our idea of retirement simply doesn't exist there.

Is it true? Isn't 辞める that very word which means the thing?

I see what the authors mean here and agree that staying active is crucial, but I wonder if you agree that the idea of retirement simply doesn't exist.

Thank you!

1 Answer 1


I think we usually use 「引退{いんたい}する」in this context. 「辞める」 basically means quitting a job, so it is not limited to retirement. The usage of 「引退する」 is especially common when considering sports athletes, political leaders, and executive positions (like VP, CEO etc.), but normally people also 引退 from their job, in the sense of leaving the workforce.

We also have slang word called 「生涯現役{しょうがいげんえき}」, meaning "being active all his life". Sometimes it literally means being in the workforce forever, but most of the time it just means being active, spending a purposeful life, maintaining a purpose in life, so it is not just limited to being in the workforce.

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