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Pensions and the passage of time in Japan

Cherry blossom and cherished memories

Being fortunate enough to be in Japan for the Rugby World Cup left me with mixed emotions.

Chief among them, for now, is disappointment at South Africa’s decisive (and deserved) victory against England in the final.

But as quickly as the Japanese spectators collected and bagged all their rubbish after matches (isn’t that an enviable communal custom?), that feeling is swiftly fading.

Six weeks went by in a blur in a country quite unlike any other I’ve been to. And apart from my love of rugby and, indeed, travel, I did have another reason for wanting to visit.

I’ve recently digitised some old home movies and there were a couple which really caught my eye.

They showed my father and mother on holiday in Japan in 1956. Dad was in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers  (I’ve blogged about him before) and based in Hong Kong, where I was born, so they took advantage of the posting to visit Japan.

As you’ll see, it was a snapshot of an era gone by but what must they have thought as they walked through Hiroshima barely a decade after it was destroyed?

I, too, went there. I even managed to track down the same room in the hotel they stayed in to replicate a scene they shot all those years ago.

The world turns quickly

While this was meaningful for me, the broader observation that came to mind was the speed of the passage of time.

Pensions inhabit a world in which there is an ever-present tension between the here and now and some day far away. While many, correctly, see them as necessary and sensible preparation, few are able to grasp convincingly the time when they will actually need them.

Having spent the best part of 40 years helping to shape for people a future they are not always able to visualise clearly, I have a more pragmatic view than most.

Emotional moments like retracing the steps my parents took reinforce my belief that the speed at which the world turns crackly home movies and hats for all occasions into history, also performs a vital role.

If anything, it’s a personal reminder to put in place provision for that stage in your life which we all reach all too quickly. 

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Pensions inhabit a world in which there is an ever-present tension between the here and now and some day far away.

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After 40 years of experience in the pensions world, I'm sharing my insights.