Discrimination

Lifetime Employment in Japan: Casual Work, Part-Time Work and Women under Equal Opportunity Law

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Lifetime employment has long been the cornerstone of corporate governance in Japan. College graduates at large firms have traditionally been guaranteed employment until retirement. These graduates, almost exclusively men, are guaranteed job security in return for complete loyalty to their company of choice.

Originally sustained by cultural forces of “loyalty” and collectivism, the lifetime employment system faces new threats; Equal Opportunity law, women entering the workforce and flexible work practices.[1] Yet despite these threats, lifetime employment has remained relatively stable in recent years. While few employees are moving into the system, it is equally true that few are moving out.[2] This essay argues that the future fate of lifetime employment will therefore depend not on Equal Employment Opportunity law, or other legal measures, but rather economic and cultural factors. There are several competing economic and cultural factors that currently cement the system in place, and prevent any flexibility. This status quo is likely to continue.

Regarding women in work, I argue that the increasing role of women in secondary labour has been a mixed blessing; offering opportunities, but also entrenching discriminatory barriers. If lifetime employment comes to an end, women will have a more fulfilling role within the Japanese economy. However, the prospects of full gender equality remain an unlikelihood, and it will take a long time for Japan to reduce entrenched sexism in the workplace.

 

Theory:

To understand changes to lifetime employment, it is important to look at what currently cements the system in place, namely the system’s cultural and legal foundations.

 

Culture:

The lifetime employment system was traditionally entrenched by Japanese cultural traditions of loyalty, collectivism and social harmony.[3] Employees, loyal to their company (chosen at graduation), were reluctant to leave due to that loyalty.[4] Employers, bound by social pressures to retain their male workers (as they tend to be the sole providers for households in Japan) have been reluctant to lay off permanent staff.[5]   Presidents of companies have called the laying off of staff “the worst sin of an employer”.[6] These cultural views have entrenched an inflexible work environment in Japan, based on cultural loyalty over economic efficiency or gender equality.

Explaining lifetime employment through culture is called the “cultural model” of academic theory.[7] Critics of this model argue that “culture assumes a set of… universal” norms and that lifetime employment is not universal in Japan.[8] However, this critique purports a very narrow definition of what “culture” actually entails. A culture need not dominate every single industry. Subcultures in employment practices are as much a reality as subcultures in fashion.[9] Just as part-time workers, dispatch workers and fixed-term employees form their own ‘subcultures’ in Japan, so too lifetime employees have their own subculture in the wider Japanese economy.[10] Within the “lifetime employment” subculture, values of loyalty and social harmony have a higher prevalence than within, say, “dispatch worker” communities, where the institution prevents sustained employer/employee contact.[11] In lifetime employment, long service promotes familial relationships with colleagues.[12] Companies remain loyal to employees, who remain loyal to companies.[13]

It is not surprising therefore that lifetime employment came to prominence in the 1970s onwards, during Japan’s economic boom. To view culture as something outside of economic forces is irrational. Rather, the argument can be put that as Japan’s economy grew, so too did the ‘lifetime’ subculture alongside it.[14] Lifetime employment’s sub-culture proliferates in economic boom periods, where long-term employment is a sustainable practice.[15] If Japan’s economy were to improve, therefore, this cultural force may once again rise in prominence.[16]

 

Dismissal Laws:

Lifetime employment has also been entrenched by laws on unfair dismissal of permanent staff.[17] The courts have restricted employers firing lifetime employees in an abusive manner, in an “unreasonable” manner or in a manner that goes against the “common sense of society”.[18] This case law has been codified in the Labor Contract Act (2007) where any dismissal of permanent employees requires “reasonable grounds”.[19] The term “reasonable” is a high bar.[20] Case law establishes that even if a radio presenter sleeps in and misses one and a half shifts it is “unreasonable” to dismiss them.[21] If someone looks “gloomy” in an interview, it is “unreasonable” to dismiss them.[22] Laying off workers to improve dividends is “unreasonable”.[23] Laying off workers, even in economic recession, should be a “last resort”.[24] The “last resort” rule forms part of four factors now used to help analyse abusive dismissals.[25] These four factors suggest, but do not conclusively demand that: dismissal should be a business necessity, a last resort, objective and reasonable, and fully consultative.[26]

The result of these decisions, the four factors and the legislation is that employers are very limited in how and when they are able to fire permanent staff.  The resulting employment inflexibility bolsters “lifetime employment”.[27] Companies transfer employees internally and to subsidiaries, instead of firing them.[28] Workers tend to stay working with a company (in some capacity) for life. The courts themselves argue that “efforts should be made to transfer and absorb redundant personnel” within the company, before staff are laid off.[29] Alternative measures should be tried first, otherwise dismissal may be deemed “unreasonable”. If an employee does get dismissed, they will have legal recourse to these strong protections under case law and statute.[30] This results in unfair dismissal law indirectly supporting a “lifetime employment” model, where employees cannot be fired easily.

Critics of this “market” analysis argue that lifetime employment pre-dates unfair dismissal laws, and therefore there is no causative relationship.[31] Here, I would argue that even if lifetime employment has other origins, in politics or culture, this does not prevent it from being buoyed by unfair dismissal laws. Indeed, but for unfair dismissal laws, lifetime employment would have declined more rapidly in the 1990s and 2008-2009, during Japan’s economic crises.[32] In the West, staff are dismissed during economic downturns.[33] However in Japan, instead of firing staff, firms changed workplace practices; reducing the hiring of new graduates, internally transferring employees to subsidiaries and freezing wage growth.[34] The firms who did lay off staff were met by strong resistance from case law, as cited above, and were urged to restructure.[35] Several dismissal decisions were overturned.[36] In this way, unfair dismissal law played a significant role in bolstering lifetime employment during the years of economic recession – forcing firms to use other methods of flexible workplace practices. Indeed, to fire all workers and start from scratch would be a legal impossibility under the current law, meaning that even if companies wanted to end the system, they would have to wait until at least the retirement age of all current lifetime employees.

In light of the above, it is not surprising that most firms (85%) still commit to lifetime employment in one way or another.[37] To do otherwise in the short term is impossible, because firing staff arbitrarily is a legal impossibility. Therefore, unfair dismissal laws support the system’s continuation.

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  • Rise of “Secondary Labour”:

Those who argue that lifetime employment is in substantial decline point to the rise of secondary labour as a new threat.[38]

 

  1. i) Statistics:

Whether the rise of secondary labour is a threat to lifetime employment depends on the statistical model you use to evaluate the data. If the entire economy is considered (Appendix 1), then lifetime employment has remained stable at around 57% of the economy from 1990 to 2001.[39] A shift has instead taken place from workers in self-employment, family work, piece work and agriculture work into fixed-term and part-time work.[40][41] From 1990 to 2001, the number of non-standard employees and part-time employees rose by 13.6%.[42] In the same period, self-employment, family work, piece work and agriculture declined by 16.6%.[43] (Unemployment rose by 2.6%, accounting for most of the discrepancy between these two figures).[44] There has, therefore, been a move away from informal work structures towards part-time and fixed-term employment.[45] Lifetime employment, as a factor of the entire economy, has only declined by a minor 0.5%.[46]  More recent figures affirm that lifetime employment has remained relatively stable at two thirds of the workforce throughout the 1990s, through to 2010.[47]

When the statistical analysis is limited to employees (Appendix 2), not the whole economy, lifetime employment looks to be in a more substantial decline.[48] From 1990 to 2001, lifetime employment decreased by 6.5% as a factor of employees in Japan.[49] This figure excludes: self-employment, family work, piece work, agriculture and unemployment.[50] It is therefore, inflated. The decrease of lifetime employment as a percentage of employees is due primarily to an increase in part-time and fixed-term workers entering the workforce.[51] In absolute terms, there are more secondary workers than ever before. Recent figures show the percentage of non-regular employees rising from 20% in 1990 to 34% in 2012.[52] However, as stated above, as a percentage of the entire economy, lifetime employment has remained stable.[53] The lack of growth in lifetime employment is indicative of the impenetrability of the lifetime employment system for new workers, as opposed to an absolute decline in the system itself.[54] Companies have simply reduced the number of staff to whom lifetime employment applies by hiring new part-time workers instead of lifetime employees.[55] The amount of workers moving out of lifetime employment is however low, at 0.5%.[56] Hence, the lifetime employment system is simply not growing and not allowing new workers to access it. Any decline in the system is small. Therefore, calling the system “dead” is an overstatement. However, if companies continue to avoid hiring permanent employees, the system will continue to be in a constant, gradual, decline until its demise.

The idea that lifetime employment is on its deathbed, though suggested by several academics, may be overstated, as it assumes companies will permanently change hiring practices and stop hiring any future lifetime employees whatsoever. The evidence however, points in the other direction. When asked if they will keep lifetime employment, 78.6% of companies surveyed in 1999 said yes, 85% of companies in 2001 said yes and 79% of companies in 2002 said yes.[57] Even firms who are committed to the system however, are being hard pressed by slow growth in the economy.[58] Half of 800 firms surveyed by Nikkei said they can “no longer sustain permanent employment practices”.[59] If the system becomes unsustainable, companies will change hiring practices.

However, the evidence of a looser commitment in hiring is not there with regard to tenure positions. Ten-year job retention rates of core male employees changed little from 1977 to 1997. [60] Retention rates increased as late as 2000.[61] This proves that, even during tough economic circumstances, businesses remain in favour of lifetime employment.

The right question might even be, “will lifetime employment have a resurgence once economic conditions [in Japan] recover?”[62] Currently, Japan’s economic growth is very low, and has been since the 1990s, so it is hard to say for sure whether the lifetime employment system is in systemic decline, or temporarily affected by Japan’s low growth. There is a view that the system could revitalize if the economy improves.[63]  It may well be that an upswing in the Japanese economy will allow businesses to hire new graduates into the system. This trend of significant new hires (into lifetime employment) during economic booms has historical precedent, at the end of the boom years in 1991 before the collapse of the economy.[64] Hence any trend upward and downward of lifetime employment may depend upon the economic conditions in Japan. To declare lifetime employment “dying” would be premature, without knowing these future conditions.

 

  1. ii) Legal Analysis:

Looking beyond economic circumstances, it is important to question why an increase in secondary labour has occurred over time.

Part of the answer lies in law reform, which has played a significant role in changing workplace practices.[65] Historically, Japan’s legal system inadvertently entrenched discrimination against secondary labour workers, resulting in longer hours, lower pay and lower working conditions for those in the second-tier economy.[66] Recently, the Japanese government began addressing this discrimination. In 2008 the Government passed an act mandating that employers “endeavour” to provide “balanced treatment for part-time workers” and lifetime employees, even if they work different roles.[67] This Act overruled case law, whereby part-time workers were only eligible for equal pay if they worked the same “job”.[68] Considering only 1.1% of businesses had part-time workers in such a job, the new Act was pivotal in widening the mandate.[69] That said, the Act has been criticised as “toothless”, because it asks for an “endeavour” as opposed to an obligation.[70] However, employers are obliged to explain why part-time workers are treated differently.[71] Employers are also obliged to “endeavour” to take measures to promote part-time worker “transitions to ordinary worker status”.[72] Since the reform, 48.6% of businesses have implemented transition procedures: meaning the law created effective social change.[73] Part-time workers have since gained a rare opportunity to access the lifetime employment scheme.

Fixed-term workers have received similar protections and are now given guaranteed employment until the end of their contractual term “unless there are unavoidable circumstances” requiring dismissal.[74] This wording is similar, but lighter, than the “reasonable grounds” test in the case of regular employees; but nevertheless grants a degree of job security previously unheard of.[75]

Future economic predictions suggest that as job security for non-regular employees increases, so too will job mobility, leading to an overall decline in lifetime employment.[76] Workers will be more prepared to test their worth on the open market.[77] The statistical evidence shows this trend is already occurring. There has already been an upward trend in job mobility since 2000.[78] Employees are already less satisfied in lifetime work.[79] One quarter of permanent employees express “a fading sense of belonging to their firm”.[80] The greater the appeal of the secondary labour market, with its flexibility and increasingly secure foundations, the more employees will start considering shifting into it, threatening the lifetime system.

 

iii) Liberalization:

Another threat to the lifetime system comes in the liberalization of informal work structures, such as dispatch employment. Dispatch employment, where companies hire temp workers through third party agencies, was initially banned in Japan.[81] The 1986 repeal of this ban, along with new liberalization of the sector, directly threatened lifetime employment.[82] Originally limited to only “specialized work”, dispatch workers can now work in any industry, save those listed under the Dispatch Worker Act.[83] This allows companies to offset the cost of hiring new graduates by hiring dispatch workers instead.

Some academics suggest that dispatch work will however remain in an ancillary role in the Japanese labour market and will never substitute “for direct hiring of permanent employees”.[84] This claim is backed up by reference to the “three year” contract limitation on companies using dispatch workers.[85] However, new legislation is set to “allow companies to use dispatch workers in the same job” indefinitely.[86] This would allow companies to replace employees with permanent dispatch workers or dispatch workers on a rotating basis for an indefinite period.  The risk here is that dispatch workers (who are easier to dismiss) will become a more appealing choice for employers than permanent employees.

The threat of this on lifetime employment remains small, with dispatch workers comprising “only 2.5% of all employees”.[87] While their numbers more than tripled from 1999 to 2006, they still remain a very small percentage of the working population.[88] Finally, although each deregulation has led to an upsurge in dispatch workers; even full deregulation is unlikely to move a 2.5% population to quickly threaten the 67.9% population of lifetime employees.[89]

Indeed, new law reform may result in the exact opposite conclusion: that dispatch workers come to facilitate a resurgence of lifetime employment. The Workers Dispatch Act (2012) lifts the ban on “temp-to-perm” positions, meaning that companies can now directly employ dispatch workers as lifetime employees, following the term of their dispatch.[90] The Act also bans employers from firing lifetime staff, only to rehire them as dispatch workers.[91] The new law therefore promotes only one-way mobility: into, but not out of, the lifetime system.

 

  1. iv) Fixed-Term Law Reform:

Similar promotional pathways into lifetime employment now exist for fixed-term workers. Article 18 of the Labor Contract Act 2012 mandates open-ended employment for fixed-term workers who work “continuously” for a company for over five years.[92] On the surface, this is a ground-breaking new pathway into lifetime employment. However, companies are already adjusting employment contracts to avoid the obligation: setting a three or four year contract renewal period.[93]

The new law does include protections to mitigate this kind of response. Companies who repeatedly renew a contract, or dismiss an employee who had a reasonable cause to expect a renewal, or refuse to renew the contract in a way that amounts to dismissal, will have to prove they had “justifiable cause”.[94] What a “justifiable cause” is will be decided by the courts.[95] Given their hard-line approach to unfair dismissal, the courts may adopt a strict construction that reinforces fixed-term worker rights.[96] If so, it will become a lot harder for companies to not renew a fixed-term contract. In turn, this would make it more likely for contracts to be renewed beyond the five year term above – in which case the fixed-term employee would be offered open-ended employment, potentially propping up the lifetime employment system.

 

Conclusion:

A statistical analysis reveals lifetime employment has only decreased by 0.5% as a factor of the economy, and remained stable at around two thirds of the economy in recent decades. This very slow decline might well continue until the system’s demise.

However, this seems unlikely. Firstly, law reform has given new avenues for part-time, fixed-term and dispatch workers to access the lifetime system. Secondly, secondary labour, far from threatening the system, may yet boost its numbers. The economic conditions of Japan may also improve, and this may give the system new life. In fact, lifetime employment will likely only face extinction is if employers change hiring practices and refuse to hire any new lifetime employees. Hence, declaring lifetime employment “dying” is premature. The system is currently stable, and may move up or down depending on future legal and economic trends.

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Impact on Women?

Having concluded that lifetime employment has only slightly declined, the question remains: has there been a significant impact on women? The answer, as I discuss below, is that women still remain largely excluded from lifetime employment. As a result, women have sought more flexible jobs. The rise of secondary labour has given women new opportunities to enter an economy traditionally favouring male, lifetime employees.

 

Culture:

Japan has a long cultural tradition of women being marginalized into “childbearing and childrearing”, with the result that most women have been traditionally excluded from lifetime employment.[97] Lifetime employment is simply incompatible with child raising. Systems of internal transfers without notice, tough travelling regimes, after-work social drinking and networking and other programs are prohibitive.[98] These programs create informal internal barriers that exclude women, who must, by cultural mandate, look after children.[99]

The exclusion of women from lifetime employment is buoyed by unequal distribution of unpaid work. As of 2006, women spend a grossly disproportionate amount of time on unpaid work in Japan, as compared to men.[100] In their 30’s (often the only time women can “convert” into lifetime employment), women spend 7.5 times more hours, than men.[101] Women are therefore prevented from committing to the “absolute loyalty” demanded by the system’s tough hours.[102] As a result, women are forced to consider other, more flexible jobs.

Many women in Japan are aware of these challenges, and some are refusing to marry as a result.[103] Employers, by extension, are rewarding this type of unmarried woman by allowing them into lifetime employment.[104] The number of unmarried women in their 20’s has doubled from 1985 to 2005, and now rests over 60%.[105] The average age of marriage has also increased. Women are foregoing family, to secure higher paid, longer-term positions.[106] The marriage age in Japan has shifted upwards, towards an average of 26.4 in 1994, and 28 years old as of 2011.[107] However, the number of women entering lifetime employment remains very low, and what is known as the “M” curve still exists, even if it is pushed back into their mid-30s. [108]

 

History:

Traditionally, cultural expectations led women to drop out of the labour force after having children, and return when their child reached independent age, leading to Japan’s infamous “M” curve.[109] Several large companies in the 1980’s mandated that women retire upon having children, or dismissed women during childbirth.[110] Women returned after their child became independent.[111]  Yet in leaving, they missed out on seniority-based wage systems.[112] In this way, the lifetime employment system entrenched gender discrimination.

Since the late 1980s, the M curve shifted positively due to a range of factors including shifts in marriage age, new secondary labour opportunities and law reform.[113] The effect on women has been substantial. Women have come to dominate secondary labour and non-regular employment. In 2007, 90% of part-time workers were women.[114] In the same year, women held the majority of positions in dispatch work (60%) and non-regular work (69%).[115] The rise of women in secondary labour can partially be explained by the marriage rates decreasing (as discussed above), but also comes down to a shift in the “M” curve, and changes to law reform.

 

Law Reform:

Recent law reform explains why some of the decrease to the “M” curve has occurred. As early as 1966 the Supreme Court found “compulsory retirement” of women upon marriage or childbirth illegal. [116] In 1981, the Court found that separate mandatory retirement ages were “unreasonable”.[117] However, it was only after the Equal Employment Opportunity Law (1986) that companies began abolishing mandatory retirement programs that discriminated against women. [118]

Cultural reasons explain why the EEO law succeeded where case law had failed. Firstly, there is a cultural expectation in Japan for employees to resolve their differences outside of the court system through internal processes and negotiation.[119] Secondly, there are large social and emotional costs involved in taking an employer to court.[120] When it became clear that companies were not responding to case law, the Japanese government was forced to enact statutory reform. Parkinson calls this the use of “law as an instrument of coercion to bring about” a “desired social goal”.[121] The EEO law banned employers from using “marriage, pregnancy or childbirth” to justify early retirement ages or dismissals of female workers.[122]A similar provision was legislated in 2006.[123] The “M” curve trend of firing pregnant women became illegal.

The effect of the EEO statute on company practices and female labour force participation was dramatic. After the EEO law came into effect, many companies took steps “to remove unfavourable terms/conditions applied to only female applicants”, to remove mandatory retirement age discrimination, and to change advertising practices to advertise for both genders.[124] Companies began shifting towards equal pay for graduates of both sexes. The rate of equal pay rose from 36% in 1980 to 79% in 1987.[125]

However, instead of granting women access to the lifetime employment system, 60% (of 148 firms surveyed) introduced a new two-track system, right after the EEO law came into effect.[126] Now almost all firms operate a two-tier system, where men go into the permanent managerial track while women go into a less secure, lower paid secretarial track.[127] In this way companies avoid equal pay requirements under the law, by simply assigning women different jobs to men.[128] Here, EEO law reform was ineffective, supplying formal equality, but in practice resulting in women working entirely different jobs.[129] In 1990, 99% of men were employed in “Track A”, the management track, as compared to 3.7% of women.[130] By comparison, 96.3% of women were employed in “track B”, the secretarial track, as compared to 1% of men.[131] The figures have changed little since then.[132] Women remain a scarcity in lifetime employment and are hence firmly relegated to secondary labour.

Despite the EEO law’s ineffectiveness in granting women access to lifetime employment, it still had a dramatic effect on increasing female labour force participation. Women in unprecedented numbers began accessing secondary labour after the law passed. Female labour force participation rose 78% from 1985 to 1997.[133]  60% of this was in the secondary labour force.[134] The number of female part-time workers also increased by 10.9%  in the 13 years following the law, as a ratio of the total number of women in the economy.[135] These figures would suggest that the EEO law gave women new confidence in entering formal working arrangements (other than lifetime work). Women moved from family work, piece work and agricultural work into the more formal work structures of part-time and dispatch work over the period.[136] Firms in the late 1980s expressed a preference for hiring part-time female workers, because of their flexible conditions and lower pay.[137] Discrimination in the law here acted as an ironic benefit to women seeking part-time work.

The EEO law did not increase the hiring of married or single women into the lifetime employment system.[138] Only women under 40 with tertiary qualifications got greater access to the system, and even then, access was limited.[139] Labour law reform entrenched, rather than minimised, gender divisions regarding permanent employment.

 

Other Law Reform:

The EEO law was assisted by other anti-discriminatory laws allowing women a more secure place in secondary labour. Changes to the Labor Standards Act in 1997 for instance, made it easier for women to access flexible jobs. Article 19 banned employers from dismissing women during a “period of absence before and after childbirth” without compensation.[140] Time for child care was mandated for an hour a day.[141] Women were given new opportunities to “have it all”, in terms of having a child and flexible workplaces. The result of these laws, along with a slow shift in culture, has seen Japanese women gain a steadily increasing foothold in secondary labour, with female labour force participation rising steadily from 2000 till 2010.[142]

The longer term historical trends paint an even more dramatic picture. In 1975, only 49% of women were employed in Japan’s workforce, in 2009 this rose to 60%.[143] In 1990, part-time female workers constituted only 28% of all female workers, in 2009 this figure rose to 43%.[144] The increasing prominence of females in part-time and secondary labour work can partially be put down to law reform that mandated equal employment opportunities.[145]

Having said all of the above, Japan’s female employment rate of 60% is still lower than other developed countries including: Germany at 64%, the US at 66% and Norway at 75%.[146] Women remain underemployed, since they are –at large- barred from entering lifetime employment and are forced to choose more flexible jobs.[147]

 

Conclusion:

Women now play a crucial role in secondary labour in Japan. Equal Employment Opportunity laws have cemented their role over time, offering new, flexible, part-time jobs. Few have entered lifetime employment, but many are balancing familial commitments with more flexible work arrangements.

As established above, lifetime employment will only decline if economic circumstances or hiring patterns of employers change. While such a case is merely a hypothetical, if the system did collapse, women could gain a foothold in more long-term employment. As it currently stands, such an outcome is unlikely, for the lifetime employment system is only in a slow decline and is not ‘on its deathbed’ as many academics suggest.

 

 

Appendix:

Appendix 1.[148]

Appendix 2.[149]

 

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  • Tsuru, Tsuyoshi “Roshi Kankei no Nonyunion-ka” (Nonunionization of labor-management relations) (2002) cited in Chiaki Moriguchi, Hiroshi Ono, ‘Japanese Lifetime Employment: A Century’s Perspective’ in Magnus Blomstrom and Sumner La Croix (eds), Institutional Change in Japan: Why it Happens, Why It Doesn’t (Routledge, 2006).
  • Ramseyer, J Mark ‘The Reluctant Litigant Revised: Rationality and Disputes in Japan’ (1988) 14 Journal of Japanese Studies 1.
  • Steinberg, Chad and Masato Nakane, Can Women Save Japan? IMF Working Paper/12/248 (2012).
  • Uzama, Austin ‘A Critique of Lifetime Employment in Japan (Shushinkoyou)’ (2008) 17 Ritsumeikin Journal of Asia Pacific Studies 71.
  • Wolff, Leon, ‘The Death of Lifelong Employment in Japan?’ in Luke Nottage, Leon Wolff, Kent Anderson (eds), Corporate Governance in the 21st Century: Japan’s Gradual Transformation (Edward Elger Publishing, 2008).
  • ‘Womenomics 3.0: The Time is Now’ (October 1 2010) Japan: Portfolio Strategy, Goldman Sachs.

 

Cases:

  • Judgment of Nagano District Court, Ueda Division, 15 March 1996, Hanta 905-276 (Marukō Alarm Case).
  • Judgment of the Niigata District Court, 26 August 1966, Rominshu 17-4, 996.
  • Judgment of the Okayama District Court, 31 July 1979, Rōhan 326-44 (Sumitomo Heavy Industries case).
  • Judgment of the Osaka District Court, 10 December 1971, Rōmin 22-6-1163 (Mistui Shipbuilding Case).
  • Judgment of the Supreme Court, 25 April 1975, Minshū 29-4-456 (Nigon Shokuen Siezō case)
  • Judgement of the Supreme Court, 31 January 1977, Saikōsai-saibanshū 120-23 (Kōchi Broadcasting Co. case).
  • Judgment of the Supreme Court, 20 July 1979, Minshū 582.
  • Judgment of the Supreme Court, 24 March 1981, Minshu 35-2-300 (Nissan Motors case).
  • Judgment of the Tokyo District Court, 20 December 1966, Rōmin 17-6-1408 (Sumitomo Cement case)
  • Judgment of Tokyo High Court, 29 October 1979, Rōmin 30-5-1002 (Tōyō Sanso case)

 

Legislation:

  • Act on Improvement, etc. of Employment Management for Part-Time Workers (2008) [ trans, The Actual Status of Non-Regular Employment and Related Policy Challenges – Focusing Primarily on Non-Regular Employment, Career Development and Equal Treatment (2012/2013) Labor Situation in Japan and Its Analysis: Detailed Exposition.]
  • Act on Securing, Etc. of Equal Opportunity and Treatment between Men and Women in Employment (2006).
  • Act for Securing the Proper Operation of Worker Dispatching Undertakings and Improved Working Conditions for Dispatched Workers (1986).
  • Employment Security Act (1947), (Unofficial Translation, 2007).
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Law (1986).
  • Labor Contract Act (2007) [The Japan Institute for Labour Policy and Training trans (2008)].
  • Labor Contract Act (2012) [Hifumi Okunuki trans, ‘Labor Law Reform Rasises Rather than Relieves Worker’s Worries’ (2013) The Japan Times 1].
  • Labor Standards Act (1997 Amendment).

 

 

[1] Leon Wolff, ‘The Death of Lifelong Employment in Japan?’ in Luke Nottage, Leon Wolff, Kent Anderson (eds), Corporate Governance in the 21st Century: Japan’s Gradual Transformation (Edward Elger Publishing, 2008) 53, 66-68 .

[2] ‘PMO 1 survey’ in Marcus Rebick, The Japanese Employment System Adapting to a New Economic Environment (Oxford University Press, 2005), 59.

[3] Wolff, above n 2, 56, 62-63; Austin Uzama, ‘A Critique of Lifetime Employment in Japan (Shushinkoyou)’ (2008) 17 Ritsumeikin Journal of Asia Pacific Studies 71-72; Robert R Picard and John C Groth, ‘Japan’s Journey to the Future’ (2001) 39 Management Decision 315, 317-322.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Hamabe, above n 1, 309; Takashi Araki, ‘The Widening Gap Between Standard and Non-Standard Employees and the Role of Labor Law in Japan’ (2011) 8 University of Tokyo Law Review 4.

[6] Hamabe, above n 1, 317.

[7] Wolff, above n 2, 62-63.

[8] Wolff, above n 2, 63; Ross Mouer and Hirosuke Kawanishi, A Sociology of Work in Japan (Cambridge University Press, 2005) 51-68.

[9] Takashi Sakikawa, Transforming Japanese Workplaces (Palgrave Macmillian, 2012) 130; Harrison Miller Trice, Occupational Subcultures in the Workplace (Cornell University Press, 1993) 212.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Hendrik Meyer-Ohle, Japanese Workplaces in Transition (Palgrave Macmillian, 2009) 113.

[12] Wolff, above n 2, 56; Uzama, above n 4; Picard and Groth, above n 4.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Chiaki Moriguchi, Hiroshi Ono, ‘Japanese Lifetime Employment: A Century’s Perspective’ in Magnus Blomstrom and Sumner La Croix (eds), Institutional Change in Japan: Why it Happens, Why It Doesn’t (Routledge, 2006) 3-18.

[15] Marcus Rebick, The Japanese Employment System Adapting to a New Economic Environment (Oxford University Press, 2005), 6.

[16] Moriguchi and Ono, above n 15, 23.

[17] Wolff, above n 2, 72; Takashi Araki, ‘The Widening Gap Between Standard and Non-Standard Employees and the Role of Labor Law in Japan’ (2011) 8 University of Tokyo Law Review 4-6.

[18] ‘Labour Law’ in Hiroshi Oda, Japanese Law (Oxford University Press, 3rd ed, 2011) 3-8; Judgment of the Supreme Court, 25 April 1975, Minshū 29-4-456 (Nigon Shokuen Siezō case); Judgement of the Supreme Court, 31 January 1977, Saikōsai-saibanshū 120-23 (Kōchi Broadcasting Co. case).

[19] Labor Contract Act (2007), Article 16 [The Japan Institute for Labour Policy and Training trans (2008)].

[20] ‘Labour Law’ in Hiroshi Oda, Japanese Law (Oxford University Press, 3rd ed, 2011) 3-8

[21] Judgment of the Supreme Court, 31 January 1977, Saikōsai-saibanshū 120-23 (Kōchi Broadcasting Co. case).

[22] Judgment of the Supreme Court, 20 July 1979, Minshū 582.

[23] Niigata District Court, 26 August 1966, Rominshu 17-4, 996.

[24] Niigata District Court, 26 August 1966, Rominshu 17-4, 996.

[25] Araki, above n 6, 3-19; Judgment of Tokyo High Court, 29 October 1979, Rōmin 30-5-1002 (Tōyō Sanso case).

[26] Ibid.

[27] Wolff, above n 18; Araki, above n 18.

[28] R Onodera, ‘Arbeitsverhaeltnisse in Japan’ in P Hanau et al. (eds), Die Arbeitswelt in Japan und in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland: ein Vergleich (Cologne, 1984) 6-9; Araki, above n 6, 3-19; Oda, above n 21, 10; Moriguchi and Ono, above n 15, 21.

[29] Judgment of the Okayama District Court, 31 July 1979, Rōhan 326-44 (Sumitomo Heavy Industries case).

[30] Labor Contract Act (2007), Article 16 [The Japan Institute for Labour Policy and Training trans (2008)]; Oda, above n 21, 10.

[31] Curtis J Milhaupt,. ‘On the (Fleeting) Existence of the Main Bank System and Other Japanese

Economic Institutions’ (2002)  27 Law and Social Inquiry 425.

[32] Onodera, above n 29; Araki, above n 6, 3-19; Oda, above n 21, 10; Moriguchi and Ono, above n 15, 21.

[33] Oda, above n 21, 3-8.

[34] Araki, above n 6, 3-19.

[35] Ibid; Niigata District Court, 26 August 1966, Rominshu 17-4, 996.

[36] Judgment of the Supreme Court, 31 January 1977, Saikōsai-saibanshū 120-23 (Kōchi Broadcasting Co. case); Judgment of the Supreme Court, 20 July 1979, Minshū 582; Niigata District Court, 26 August 1966, Rominshu 17-4, 996; Judgment of Tokyo High Court, 29 October 1979, Rōmin 30-5-1002 (Tōyō Sanso case); Judgment of the Okayama District Court, 31 July 1979, Rōhan 326-44 (Sumitomo Heavy Industries case).

[37] AMETI survey of Corporate System and Employment (2003) cited in Leon Wolff, ‘The Death of Lifelong Employment in Japan?’ in Luke Nottage, Leon Wolff, Kent Anderson (eds), Corporate Governance in the 21st Century: Japan’s Gradual Transformation (Edward Elger Publishing, 2008) 53, 66-68 .

[38] Wolff, above n 2.

[39] PMO 1 Survey, cited in Marcus Rebick, The Japanese Employment System Adapting to a New Economic Environment (Oxford University Press, 2005) 59.

[40] Ibid.

[41] Ibid.

[42] Ibid.

[43] Ibid.

[44] Ibid; Statistics Bureau, Labour Force Unemployment Rate, Historical Data 1 (2014), Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication Japan < http://www.stat.go.jp/english/data/roudou/&gt;.

[45] Rebick, above n 40.

[46] Ibid.

[47] Jonathon Adams, Temp Nation: The demise of ‘lifetime employment in Japan (May 18 2010) Global Post < http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/commerce/100510/japan-economy-temporary-workers&gt;; Meyer-Ohle, above n 12, p. 113; Tsuyoshi Tsuru, “Roshi Kankei no Nonyunion-ka” (Nonunionization of labor-management relations) (2002) cited in Chiaki Moriguchi, Hiroshi Ono, ‘Japanese Lifetime Employment: A Century’s Perspective’ in Magnus Blomstrom and Sumner La Croix (eds), Institutional Change in Japan: Why it Happens, Why It Doesn’t (Routledge, 2006) 3-18.

[48] PMO 1 survey, cited in Marcus Rebick, The Japanese Employment System Adapting to a New Economic Environment (Oxford University Press, 2005) 60.

[49] Ibid.

[50] Rebick, above n 40.

[51] Ibid, 60.

[52] Araki, above n 6; OECD Economic Surveys Japan (April 2013) Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) <http://www.oecd.org/eco/surveys/Overview%20Japan%202013%20English.pdf&gt;.

[53] Rebick, above n 40.

[54] Araki, above n 6, 10; Rebick, above n 40.

[55] Oda, above n 21; Araki, above n 6, 11.

[56] Rebick, above n 40.

[57] Wolff, above n 2, 67-71.

[58] The Actual Status of Non-Regular Employment and Related Policy Challenges – Focusing Primarily on Non-Regular Employment, Career Development and Equal Treatment (2012/2013) Labor Situation in Japan and Its Analysis: Detailed Exposition, 57-58 < http://www.jil.go.jp/english/lsj/detailed/2012-2013/chapter3.pdf&gt;.

[59] Ibid.

[60] Moriguchi and Ono, above n 15, 347.

[61] Moriguchi and Ono, above n 15, 347; Wolff, above n 2, 69-72.

[62] Moriguchi and Ono, above n 15, 23.

[63] Ibid.

[64] Kenn Ariga, Giorgio Brunello and Yasushi Okhusa, Internal Labor Markets in Japan (Cambridge University Press, 2000) 150.

[65] Wolff, above n 2, 66.

[66] Araki, above n 6, 1;  OECD Economic Surveys Japan, above n 53, 3, 38; Meyer-Ohle, above n 12, 113.

[67] Act on Improvement, etc. of Employment Management for Part-Time Workers (2008), Articles 8, 9 cited in The Actual Status of Non-Regular Employment and Related Policy Challenges – Focusing Primarily on Non-Regular Employment, Career Development and Equal Treatment (2012/2013) Labor Situation in Japan and Its Analysis: Detailed Exposition, 66 < http://www.jil.go.jp/english/lsj/detailed/2012-2013/chapter3.pdf&gt;.

[68] Judgment of Nagano District Court, Ueda Division, 15 March 1996, Hanta 905-276 (Marukō Alarm Case).

[69] The Actual Status of Non-Regular Employment and Related Policy Challenges – Focusing Primarily on Non-Regular Employment, Career Development and Equal Treatment (2012/2013) Labor Situation in Japan and Its Analysis: Detailed Exposition, 65 < http://www.jil.go.jp/english/lsj/detailed/2012-2013/chapter3.pdf&gt;.

[70] Ibid.

[71] Act on Improvement, etc. of Employment Management for Part-Time Workers (2008), Articles 6, 13.

[72] Act on Improvement, etc. of Employment Management for Part-Time Workers (2008), Articles 12.

[73] The Actual Status of Non-Regular Employment and Related Policy Challenges, above n 70, 69.

[74] Labor Contract Act (2007), Article 17 [The Japan Institute for Labour Policy and Training trans (2008)].

[75] Labor Contract Act (2007), Article 16 [The Japan Institute for Labour Policy and Training trans (2008)].

[76] Wolff, above n 2, 66-68.

[77] Ibid.

[78] Ibid.

[79] Ibid.

[80] Gerard McAlinn (ed), Japanese Business Law (Kluwer Law International, 2007) 407-410.

[81] Employment Security Act (1947), (Unofficial Translation, 2007); ‘Japan Worker Dispatch Act Passes’ (June 26, 2012) International Operations Update, Radius World Growth Experts.

[82] Act for Securing the Proper Operation of Worker Dispatching Undertakings and Improved Working Conditions for Dispatched Workers (1986); 1996 amendment; 1999 amendment; 2000 amendment; 2012 amendment; The Current Status and the Challenges of Dispatched Work in Japan (2012), 13 <http://www.jil.go.jp/english/lsj/detailed/2011-2012/chapter2.pdf&gt;; Amendments to the Worker Dispatch Act for Employers Using Temporary Workers, Client Alert, Baker & McKenzie (2012) < http://www.bakermckenzie.com/files/Publication/4cb11a36-f12a-491d-837e-c03c1c1d6eab/Presentation/PublicationAttachment/4c6c9a39-605a-4258-afa8-c327781084d8/al_tokyo_amendmentsworkerdispatchact_sep12.pdf&gt;.

[83] Act for Securing the Proper Operation of Worker Dispatching Undertakings and Improved Working Conditions for Dispatched Workers (1999 Amendment).

[84] ‘Japan Worker Dispatch Act Passes’ (June 26, 2012) International Operations Update, Radius World Growth Experts; Karen A. Shire, ‘Stability and Change in Japanese Employment Institutions: The Case of Temporary Work’ (2002) 84 ASIEN 21, 23.

[85] ‘Dispatch Rules Face Changes’ (January 29, 2014) The Japan Times.

[86] Ibid.

[87] Araki, above n 6, 11.

[88] Meyer-Ohle, above n 12, 129.

[89] Araki, above n 6, 11; Rebick, above n 40.

[90] Act for Securing the Proper Operation of Worker Dispatching Undertakings and Improved Working Conditions for Dispatched Workers (2000); The Current Status and the Challenges of Dispatched Work in Japan (2012), 13 <http://www.jil.go.jp/english/lsj/detailed/2011-2012/chapter2.pdf&gt;.

[91] Amendments to the Worker Dispatch Act for Employers Using Temporary Workers, Client Alert, Baker & McKenzie (2012) < http://www.bakermckenzie.com/files/Publication/4cb11a36-f12a-491d-837e-c03c1c1d6eab/Presentation/PublicationAttachment/4c6c9a39-605a-4258-afa8-c327781084d8/al_tokyo_amendmentsworkerdispatchact_sep12.pdf&gt;.

[92] Labor Contract Act 2012, Article 18 [Hifumi Okunuki trans, ‘Labor Law Reform Rasises Rather than Relieves Worker’s Worries’ (2013) The Japan Times 1].

[93] Hifumi Okunuki, ‘Labor Law Reform Rasises Rather than Relieves Worker’s Worries’ (2013) The Japan Times 1-3; Japan Employment Law Update (April 2013), Herbert Smith Freehills < http://www.herbertsmithfreehills.com/-/media/Files/PDFs/2013/Japan%20Employment%20Law%20Update%20-E-%20April%202013.pdf&gt;.

[94] Labor Contract Act 2012, Article 19 [Hifumi Okunuki trans, ‘Labor Law Reform Rasises Rather than Relieves Worker’s Worries’ (2013) The Japan Times 1].

[95] Okunuki, above n 94; Yasuhiro Fujii and Kana Itabashi, Amendment to the Labor Contract Act (Protection of Contract Employees), Baker & MacKenzie Client Legal Alert (August, 2012) <http://www.bakermckenzie.com/files/Publication/f9010182-bd79-471a-91c7-cd5c5be8e110/Presentation/PublicationAttachment/1c0e794c-a75f-49a0-b9fd-ea8c0e9ad567/al_tokyo_amendmentlaborcontractact_aug12.pdf&gt;; Elizabeth Cole, L. Mark Weeks and Yumiko Ohta, ‘Amendments to fixed-term labor contracts in Japan’ (Feb 13, 2013) Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP.

[96]

[97] Linda N Edwards, ‘The Status of Women in Japan: Has the Equal Employment Opportunity Law Made a Difference?’ (1992) 71 Center on Japanese Economy and Business Working Papers, 6; Robbi Louise Miller, ‘The Quiet Revolution: Japanese Women Working Around the Law’ (2003) 26 Harvard Women’s Law Journal 163, 164-165; Loraine Parkinson, ‘Japan’s Equal Employment Opportunity Law: An Alternative Approach to Social Change’ (1989) 89 Columbia Law Review 604, 26-27.

[98] Ibid.

[99] Ibid.

[100] ‘Suvery on Time Use and Leisure Activities’ (2006), Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Japan.

[101] Ibid.

[102] Parkinson, above n 95, 26.

[103] ‘Asia’s Lonely Hearts: Women are Rejecting Marriage in Asia. The Social Implications are Serious’ (August 20, 2011) The Economist (Print Edition); Miller, above n 98, 164.

[104] Parkinson, above n 98, 26.

[105] ‘Womenomics 3.0: The Time is Now’ (October 1 2010) Japan: Portfolio Strategy, Goldman Sachs 3.

[106] Ibid.

[107] Bill Gordon, Equal Employment Opportunity Law System and Women (1998) 2 < http://www.bill-gordon.net/papers/eeol.htm&gt;; ‘Marriage’, The Ministry of Justice, Japan cited in Marriage in Japan, All in Japan: Information About Culture of Japan (2011) < http://www.allinjapan.org/marriage-in-japan/&gt;.

[108] ‘Employment Status Survey 2007’ (2007) Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Japan.

[109] Miller, above n 98, 163, 164-167, 194-207, 5; Edwards, above n 98, 22; Gordon, above n 108, 2-5.

[110] Edwards, above n 98, 1-5; Miller, above n 98, 167.

[111] Ibid.

[112] Kiyoko Kamio Knapp, ‘Don’t Awaken the Sleeping Child: Japan’s Gender Equality Law and the Rhetoric of Gradualism’ (1988) 8 Columbia Journal of Gender and the Law 143; Edwards, above n 98, 1-5; Miller, above n 98, 167.

[113] ‘ Employment Status Survey’ (2007) Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Japan; Knapp, above n 113.

[114] Sōmuchō Tōkei-kyoku, (2008) Statistics Bureau, Management and Coordination Agency, Statistics Japan.

[115] Ibid.

 

[116] Judgment of the Tokyo District Court, 20 December 1966, Rōmin 17-6-1408 (Sumitomo Cement case); Judgment of the Osaka District Court, 10 December 1971, Rōmin 22-6-1163 (Mistui Shipbuilding Case).

[117] Judgment of the Supreme Court, 24 March 1981, Minshu 35-2-300 (Nissan Motors case).

[118]  Edwards, above n 98, 22.

[119] J Mark Ramseyer, ‘The Reluctant Litigant Revised: Rationality and Disputes in Japan’ (1988) 14 Journal of Japanese Studies 1, 111-113.

[120] Parkinson, above n 98, 29.

[121] Ibid, 24.

[122] Equal Employment Opportunity Law (1986), Articles 3, 4.

[123] Act on Securing, Etc. of Equal Opportunity and Treatment between Men and Women in Employment (2006), Article 9.

[124] Alice Lam, ‘Equal Employment Opportunities for Japanes Women’, in Janet Hunter (ed.), Japanese Women Working (Routledge, 1993) 212; Edwards, above n 98, 22.

[125] ‘Romu Gyosei Kenkyusho Survey’ in Alice Lam, ‘Equal Employment Opportunities for Japanes Women’, in Janet Hunter (ed).), Japanese Women Working (Routledge, 1993) 212.

[126] Edwards, above n 98, 20.

[127] Chad Steinberg and Masato Nakane, Can Women Save Japan? IMF Working Paper/12/248 (2012) 18; Kelly Barrett, ‘Women in the Workplace: Sexual Discrimination in Japan’, 11 Human Rights Brief 2.

[128] Labor Standards Act (1947), Article 4.

[129] Oda, above n 19, 50.

[130] Edwards, above n 98, 20.

[131] Ibid.

[132] Gordon, above n 108, 2-5.

[133] Ibid.

[134] Ibid.

[135] ‘Womenomics 3.0: The Time is Now’, above n 106.

[136] Rebick, above n 40.

[137] Ibid, 67.

[138] Yukiko Abe, ‘Long-Term Impacts of the Equal Employment Opportunity Act in Japan’ 10 Japanese Law Review 2 (2013) 1-2.

[139] Ibid.

[140] Labor Standards Act (1997 Amendment), Article 19.

[141] Labor Standards Act (1997 Amendment), Article 67.

[142] ‘Labour Force Survey’ (2013) Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.

[143] ‘Womenomics 3.0: The Time is Now’, above n 106, 3.

[144] Ibid.

[145] Ibid.

[146] Ibid, 9.

[147] Edwards, above n 98; Miller, above n 98.

[148] PMO 1 survey, cited in Marcus Rebick, The Japanese Employment System Adapting to a New Economic Environment (Oxford University Press, 2005) 59.

[149] PMO 1 survey, cited in Marcus Rebick, The Japanese Employment System Adapting to a New Economic Environment (Oxford University Press, 2005) 60.

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