Employment Situation and Measures for Increasing Employment Opportunities;The Case of Japan


Japanese economy faced a severe depression after the brake-out of “bauble economy” to the result that big banks went on bankruptcy and merged each other for survival. Under this financial crisis, even big companies representing Japanese business have to restructure their business and reduce their employees.

Medium-sized as well as large multi-national companies moved their factories especially to Asian counties to find out new market for their products and avoid high labor cost in Japan. These direct investments may stimulate Japanese economy, but reduce employment opportunities within domestic labor market.

At the same time, the baby boomer after the Second World War is reaching to the retirement age of 55 or 60 years old. These senior workers were the targets of the “restructuring” of many companies. The unemployment rate of senior workers was one of the main purposes of social policies.

Female workers moved into labor market not only as pat-time workers but also as regular workers especially after 1986 when the Equal Employment Opportunity Law was enacted. However, female workers have to face many “glass ceilings” of traditional social customs.

Under these severe labor market conditions, it is the controversial arguments among government, industrial leaders and trade unions how we can recover the economy and increase the employment opportunities for all of the workers. “Work sharing” was a kind of key word to answer this request. This paper intends to address this concept to discuss the main subjects of this Forum.

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