Japan Transforms from Traditional Industrial Relations System to Contemporary Employment Relations,
The transformation in the employment sector of Japan cannot be over emphasized. The pressures of globalization are continually spreading from one corner of the world to another and Japan has not been left out. These pressures most of the time conflicts with the Traditional Industrial Relations systems and firms have to be well be prepared to cope with them. The conflicts are early indicators of a paradigm shift of the economy ways of operations (Simeon, 2009). “The past two decades have seen a transformation in Japan employment relation, from a Traditional Industrial Relations system to a Contemporary Employment Relations” This is very true because already there are noticeable changes in the economy already which include the wage levels, the working hours, job security and job anatomy.
The wage levels of the Japanese workers, was such that the salaries rose as they aged. They adopted the seniority system; regular promotions came along and job security came along with longer periods of work at a certain organization. The aging population has negative connotations to the firms in which they work in. Since they are permanent and receive high wages, the firms suffer as these aged groups are less productive compared to the younger generation. When the stagnation of Japan’s economy was experienced, some of these old traditional methods of employment had to be changed to better and newer methods of employment to ease the burden. From the survey that was carried out, though there was a minimal group of people who supported the old ways of operation, the larger group was in support of new methods of operations like the use of performance contracts and evaluation feedbacks to determine the employees to be promoted and those to receive bigger wages. (Abdullah, Ahmad, & Jusoff, 2009). With the new system, more young people are able to get into the labour force since the job consideration is that of job experience rather than loyalty to the employer. Japan’s current law has the minimum wages that a person in a particular job should be paid. There are two sets of minimum wages to guide the payment of the women employees: the regional wages based on the collective agreement and the minimun wages based on studies and dliberations of minimum wage council of Japan (Kawaguchi & Yamada, 2007).
The entry of women into the male dominated workforce in Japan also indicates that the traditional system is facing a lot of changes to empower women (Gelb, 2000). In the past, the Japanese women worked in low-skilled work, like tea-ladies, and if they got jobs they were the contract jobs. The Equal Opportunity Law that was passed changed everything for the women, (Hunter, 2000). Earlier on the employers were “requested” not to discriminate the employees but that law has been recently changed to make discrimination illegal. Research on the National Economy of Japan also shows that if more women were given work opportunities, the economy would benefit more in the next ten years to come. The Japanese government is looking for ways to get more women in business. Undermining terms that were used on women like “Women salespersons” has now been changed to “partners” instead. Nevertheless, the changes are not quick to adapt to. However, there are worries about how women will manage to balance the family life and work. In order to cater for this, Japan introduced the Childcare Leave Law (CCLL) and later on this was changed to Childcare and Family Care leave Law (CCFCLL). These laws allow employees and especially women to request for leave in order to take care of their children. Although when these laws were introduced they did not include if the employee taking leave could still be paid, the laws were reviewed to ensure that there would be normal payment during the leave and also a returning allowance (Gottfried & O’Reilly, 2002).
Japan has adapted to working by contracts rather than offering permanent jobs to individuals. The white collar job also known locally as “Sarariman” or Salaryman in Japan has since been replaced by “Contract-man” .The older system tended to accommodate a permanent way of employment since the employers put more trust on the older people who had worked in their firms for a longer period. This was however not very beneficial to the firms. The older the people the less effective they became even though they had experience at the firm. The fact that they had stayed there for long implied that they were loyal to the work and the firms. This did not increase their work-ability but instead they felt important to the firm; that the firm cannot do without them. With the recession at hand, Japan had to invest in ways that were less costly for the firms but those that would yield more benefits. Contract employment is one such way that is used to motivate the employees to work hard so as to get the next contract with the firms in question. The contract provides employers with the opportunity to retain the hardworking employees by renewing the contract as soon as it expires (Aoki, 1990).