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JapanThe Precarious Future$
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Anne Allison

Print publication date: 1953

Print ISBN-13: 9781479889389

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479889389.001.0001

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Risk and Consequences: The Changing Japanese Employment Paradigm

Risk and Consequences: The Changing Japanese Employment Paradigm

Chapter:
(p.58) Chapter Three Risk and Consequences: The Changing Japanese Employment Paradigm
Source:
Japan
Author(s):

Machiko Osawa

Jeff Kingston

Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9781479889389.003.0004

The most significant trend in the Japanese labor market over the past two decades is the doubling of the percentage of the workforce hired as nonregular employees who do not enjoy job security or many other benefits routinely accorded regular full-time workers. Called the “precariat” (workers in precarious employment), they now constitute about 38 percent of the entire workforce, often employed under disadvantageous terms involving low pay, dead-end jobs, and easy termination. The spread of precarious work marks a tectonic change in Japan, a nation generally associated with job security and paternalistic employers. It correlates with a rise in poverty and inequality, carrying implications for the solvency of pension and medical care systems at a time when demands on these systems are increasing because of the graying of society. This paradigm shift has been caused by corporate cost-cutting and government deregulation of the labor market, one that hits women hardest as they are overrepresented among nonregular workers, undermining hopes for womenomics. The costs of job insecurity also discourage youth, contribute to deflation, lower productivity, boost suicide while lowering the marriage rate and fertility. Immigration could be a key policy option in addressing expected shortages of both skilled and unskilled workers, but there are no signs that the government will allow sufficient immigration to make much of a difference.

Keywords:   precariat, womeonomics, deregulation, employment, fertility, deflation, suicide, inequality, poverty, immigration

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