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In Session: Japan’s Labor Reforms Confront the Coronavirus
2: Work Style Reform and Women: The Limits of Japanese Style Neoliberal Reform
Tuesday, March 23, 2021
8:30am – 10:00am EDT
Osaka City University, Japan
The Abe Government’s labor reform agenda reputedly manifests the importance newly placed on women's and families’ concerns in Japan. Two core objectives of Work Style Reform are improving work conditions for non-regular workers (who are predominantly women) and expanding public services (especially to benefit childrearing families). Certainly, public services have been expanded by the Abe Government, but this report emphasizes that the Government has avoided committing the resources necessary to maintain the quality of those services, or to improve employment conditions for public service workers. These include over one million people directly employed by government, notably in education, childcare, and government offices, and hundreds of thousands more employed by private operators. Furthermore, Japan’s 640,000 non-regular local civil servants are being deliberately excluded from Work Style Reform. To legitimize the exclusion, the Government has established a new personnel system (the fiscal year appointed employee system), which is expected to encourage further non-regularization of the work force, and which is designed to further reduce the rights of unions (already restricted) to conduct collective bargaining.