business

Japanese companies struggle to hire, retain staff as labor shortage worsens

48 Comments
By Sam Nussey

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48 Comments
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There is one solution, raise the wages, make the employment full-time with benefits, and people will come knocking.

I am tired of seeing these businesses complaining about not being able to find workers, when they do nothing to improve the conditions, and expect people to apply.

35 ( +37 / -2 )

Kuroneko Yamato deserves praise for thinking of their employees.

My guy works his butt off, late into the evening, and will even redeliver the same day if you call his mobile phone directly. He always has a smile, and has even apologized for delivering earlier than scheduled!!!

16 ( +19 / -3 )

Abe needs to build more day care spaces. You want housewife's you need to build these.

17 ( +19 / -2 )

Smoke and mirrors! There is a shortage of people willing to take on low-paying part-time work with no security and ridiculous working hours. Those statistics for unemployment are fudged nonsense.

26 ( +29 / -3 )

And once again the rest of Japan just doesn't matter! It is only what is happening in Tokyo that really matters to the gov't and companies. Out in local areas there are lots of people willing to work, but no jobs. Why, because everything is centralized in Tokyo, and the gov't will do nothing to try and move them out. It makes no sense to me that there is not a strong plan on how to get regional economies back up and running, but I guess that would be too much hard work for our pampered lazy politicians.

13 ( +18 / -5 )

better working conditions?! Next people will want an actual living wage, convenient daycare spaces, weekends off, and an annual mandatory paid vacation!

26 ( +26 / -0 )

Kuroneko Yamato deserves praise for thinking of their employees.

Your sense of humor is amazing! Or maybe it's just pure sarcasm.

Yamato only started worrying about paying back wages etc because the labor board was getting involved and they were getting some SERIOUS bad press about their working conditions.

They don't deserve any praise, they should be kept under a microscope.

19 ( +19 / -0 )

complain about part time,underpaid with no benefits worker shortage, its called greed and nothing more.

how about offering more than pityfull 20 man a month + insurance + pension + some sort of job security?

19 ( +20 / -1 )

”Looking toward “Unorthodox methods” ehh? Well let me see...

Oh, so all we came up with was women? Perhaps the problem lies within?

12 ( +12 / -0 )

I think this all goes back to an old fashioned idea of university to a job for life way of thinking.

This means those working in a the crucial service jobs have been treated as transient at best, and as merry-go-round quasi robots at worst... so hard to get staff?

I have no doubt, would you work in a job with any serious commitment where you have no long term security, low wages, and likely due to the type of contract are personally responsible to cover health, pension out of the small amount of money you are making with little to no chance of promotion or wage increases.. the minimum wage here is outrageously low.

I made more an hour stacking shelves after school at the local department store in NZ 22 years ago than what I see on a lot of the signs around the place here advertising for staff.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

How about getting some of these low life, parasites living off their parent's money to work before they use up their parent's savings and forced them to go on welfare (at taxpayer'S expense) when they retire.

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

The companies get more than they deserve...

10 ( +10 / -0 )

"We've recommended that the tenants convert some of the positions to full time and raise wages but they tell us they can't do that and still make money,"

They will have to go out of business due to pure market forces.

Hardly a tragedy, this is the way it is supposed to work out.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Abe needs to build more day care spaces.

Rather we need regulation changes so that normal operators can start up services where they are required.

Abe has no clue where across the entire country there would be sufficient demand for viable daycare operations. If he went and built more centers they would be in the wrong places, and guess whose tax will have been spent paying Abe's construction buddies?

we certainly need better day care service but we should not jis ourselves that central govt is the best operator.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

By contrast, "in our Chiba mall I think the location is the big issue, there's just not enough people."

If the local population isn't big enough to provide a pool of labour then surely it isn't big enough to provide a pool of customers either?

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Smoke and mirrors! There is a shortage of people willing to take on low-paying part-time work with no security and ridiculous working hours. Those statistics for unemployment are fudged nonsense.

This

Yamato only started worrying about paying back wages etc because the labor board was getting involved and they were getting some SERIOUS bad press about their working conditions.

They don't deserve any praise, they should be kept under a microscope.

Exactly, not only Yamato btw. Yamato is just a small tip of the huge iceberg.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Note Japanese profits continue to hit record highs. These employers have it in their power to end their "labor shortage." They're just too greedy to do it, and would rather get the govt to fix their problems.

15 ( +16 / -1 )

"That can include looking to housewives and the retired to come into or rejoin the labor force. In some cases it means offering better working conditions for some staff, even if this requires raising prices. In others, companies are reducing the services they offer, perhaps by cutting opening hours, or delaying expansion plans."

I mean they certainly can but most of them are not doing anything. Why would anyone want to work for minimum pay (

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Bizarre, people don't want to work for one of the lowest pay scales in the OECD. 3rd biggest economy we are told, because wages are just above poverty levels just. My brother cuts grass in Australia $800+ a week one paid day off a month. Medical insurance, pension. 5 weeks paid holiday. Sick days. It's not rocket science share the wealth.

18 ( +18 / -0 )

Labour shortage means it's a seller's market.

Raise minimum wage to at least 1,200 yen, and curb the tendency of companies to employ people on insecure contracts with no benefits. Don't let "equal pay for equal work" simply be a buzzword.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

We all know the solutions to this, and the government and companies most certainly do, too, but they will do ANYTHING to avoid them. Raise pay and benefits, and lower working hours for current staff and incoming staff requirements, and you'll get plenty. Government answer? -- take an already illegal overtime and call add heaps of hours on top of it, calling it a "cap" and suggesting companies comply, with no punishment save a slap on their wrist if people DIE from overwork. The companies want two employees to do the job and get the pay of 5, and wonder why they don't get more slaves. 2) Bring in more foreign labor, giving them immigrant status where desired. Government answer?  -- make immigration laws more strict, and only allow in white-collar workers for lengthened visas, but continue to deny dual nationality as a possibility. Make a "work-intern" program and turn a blind eye to the human rights abuses that prevail under it. Turn a blind eye on illegals working in the construction racket instead of allowing them citizenship or extended visas, thus ensuring a black market for slave labor for the companies. Finally, hope for robots to save us.

There are quick and easily solutions to this problem, but the companies and government are stuck in an old mindframe that would sooner see this country in decay and die, just hoping it all happens when THEY are gone.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Additionally in Tokyo you have to factor in a miserable commute for a low paying job and that will factor against it. If you don't live in Tokyo it may be hard to understand how bad it is. A few examples: last week the train got crushingly crowded as we approached the main transfer point and I heard a woman moaning. She apparently could not breath and had a panic attack. The train stopped and it took a few minutes to find her as the packed commuters got off the train. Yesterday, in unseasonally hot weather, the guy in a suit in front of me looked like he was hyperventilating and having some sort of panic attack in the crush. Sweat was pouring off him and he was shaking. So, for 1200 yen an hour who the heck needs that crap... I look forward to when I can leave this commuting nightmare behind.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

as Yabaru just said its not a "labour shortage" theres plenty of workers in Japan. its a "work conditions shortage" as the saying goes "you pay peanuts, you get monkeys" more pay better working hrs will get you staff easily. Id happily shovel poo 12hrs a day if the wages are good enough .

12 ( +12 / -0 )

This goes waaaay beyond raising the minimum wage. Most people are just slaves to some kind of corporate job that they hate, and they just live for the weekends. They endure awful commutes in packed sardine cans, awful bosses and coworkers, boring, repetitive work, insanely long hours and cold, atomised "families" and unhappy marriages. Yep, livin' the dream in Tokyo...

11 ( +11 / -0 )

What most employers are offering prospective staff is awful. Who wants part time work with no regular hours, no benefits and low pay? Treat staff as human beings, not commodities. Full time, permanent contracts, no forced overtime, benefits, decent annual leave and a living wage is how you attract staff who are loyal to the company and are willing to work.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Most of these jobs can be automated pretty easily. Remember when we still had gas jokeys at the gas stations? Eventually machines will replace humans in all jobs which don't require a great deal of thinking. As universal basic income will become a norm, AI won't be considered as a threat to society anymore, and all the luddites can start doing something more useful and creative rather than mechanically pressing buttons.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

The labor shortage will only get worse with the aging population. Japan needs way more immigrant workers. That's the way it is.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

What a sick sick joke this has become, EVER poster prior to me KNOWS whats wrong!

Japan Inc & the govt are LOATH to do whats right & here we are, big surprise, NOT!

It is a VERY SIMPLE FIX but the powers that be for some bizarre reason cant grasp the obvious!

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I don't really know how we can fix the problems of these shops in Chiba, but a solution for the tight Tokyo labour market is to maybe up the minimum wage. This might even foster labour competition among the service industries so struggling to find workers

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Remember when we still had gas jokeys at the gas stations?

In Kansai area, they still do. In fact, it's the norm.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I have nothing to add but another voice in the crowd: pay people well, give them reasonable benefits, treat them fairly, and there will be no so-called labour shortage.

The headline and article are so aligned with management and not labor that it borders on pathetic.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

This goes waaaay beyond raising the minimum wage. Most people are just slaves to some kind of corporate job that they hate, and they just live for the weekends. They endure awful commutes in packed sardine cans, awful bosses and coworkers, boring, repetitive work, insanely long hours and cold, atomised "families" and unhappy marriages. Yep, livin' the dream in Tokyo...

But this insight can only be seen from those that have seen otherwise. Most people here just accept it as the norm and we are the nails standing out for thinking otherwise.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

A feudal mind set that is 1000 years old wrapped in an excuse of "culture" Relegating a vast majority of people into sevatude for the good of the whole while actually they just make money for the elite. Maybe just me but I like to think I can improve my life by participating and engaging my fellow humans. Whip me I will whip you back. Japan needs more whipping, and a PM who does not live with his Mum.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Remember that all progress in the work place means less employees are needed to do the job. Automation is the future, not hiring bunch of low skilled people to do simple and not needed jobs. Look at your work place in a typical J company to see how much fat is there...

I live in a small place in norther Japan and have yet to see a salesman who speaks English and is able to answer the questions about the things he is selling, not just "kento shimasu".

There should not be a minimal wage because if it is set at say 1200 yen per hour and me as an employer will not value guy's work for that 1200 but only 1000 then I will have to let him go which will increase unemployment.

Job supply and demand shall be purely a market decision.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

There is no shortage of labor in Japan. What there is a shortage of, however, is decent paid, secure jobs. There lies the problem.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

All seem to agree here that there is a need for change in the corporate attitude and culture as well as legislative and legal changes to 1) "allow" workers who want to work "to work" (employ them) and "change" work or employers if wanted without discriminating pay scales due to age, sex, etc. 2) consider living standards of workers as well as corporate or company profits and pay accordingly 3) improve the working environment and conditions for employees... in the hope of getting more employees.

There are 3 aspects that usually needs to be addressed in any business, that of meaningfulness, efficiency, and effectiveness of any worker/employee. That is affected by the HR Dept. hiring process. I see a major problem with the "hiring" processes", the "employment systems" and the "concepts" used, which literally makes it impossible to change, improve or grow unless the Japanese society itself changes their business and work cultures.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Reading the above comments it seams that the general consensus is 1, up the wages,2 better conditions, 3, less hours, 4, more of a stable employment rather than a 2 hour temporary contract! 5, more child care facilities, lets see how many companies take note of what is said here!!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

2.8% jobless rate = strengthening economy my butt.

Japan just does not have enough people to support its infrastructure anymore.

Walked into a convenience store or izakaya lately? Most of the staff are foreign students. There are not enough people.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The short terms solutions evoked before my comment are what should be the norm, since all major countries have much better working conditions in my opinions.

I can tell you, it is too late to achieve the possibility to maintain the current level amount and quality of services produced.

The pool of staff is shrinking and fast. Automation and improving wages can help reduce that pace but will not counter it.

In a few years, 1 million Japanese less PER YEAR. Since they don't reproduce, it means even more reduced number of skilled employees. And foreign people will never be accepted on a large scale, know that too.

Abe telling his Japanese citizens that they are (economic) resources is not helping...

The good side is that remaining staff will be in strong position for requests to improve all their conditions, for those brave enough to ask.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Japanese companies struggle to hire, retain staff as labor shortage worsens

They offer crap jobs for crap pay AND no immigration. What did you think was going to happen?

Reap what you sow.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

More than half of housewives with children would like to work but are not able to find a suitable job, a survey of more than 4,000 married mothers by the Jobs Research Centre found. They were particularly concerned about long working days that don't fit with their responsibilities at home.

In my opinion, Japan's long working day is a far bigger issue than the lack of pre-school childcare in the big cities. So long as everyone in f/t employment is expected to work from 8.30 to 5:30 or 6 minimum, with regular overtime and little (and often untakeable) paid leave, you will not get full female participation in the economy, even from women who get their kids into preschool. Both parents working 8:30 to 6 is fundamentally incompatible with raising a child in elementary school. The school, clubs, and neighbourhood demands on the parents will be too great. Compared to 9 to 5, 8:30 to 6 is the same as working an extra day every week.

Though it saddens me, I would imagine that many of the surveyed housewives would actually work for low pay provided they did not lose out too much by losing dependency for pension/health care. The thing stopping them is the crazy hours.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

It is a VERY SIMPLE FIX but the powers that be for some bizarre reason cant grasp the obvious!

If the "powers that be" means the government and Abe, yes they know, Abe has been "urging" businesses to raise wages, so HE can raise the taxes and make more money for the government to spend.

If you mean the "powers that be" are business leaders and what not, they know too, but they are loath to give more money to workers when they aren't getting enough back from the government. Too many businesses here rely on labor intensive make work types of jobs, and hire needless numbers of employees as well.

THe dead weight in so many corporations here is amazing.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Simply raising everyone's wages is never the solution! ! ! ! ! !

WHY?

Because raising everyone's wage merely raises the cost of everything in which leads to raising the price of everything which bings us back to where we started or closing down stores that makes this society convenient.

Everyone talks of raising minimum wage and/or big corporate is making huge profit, unfortunately that is not the case for domestic retail chains which are only making ends meet which is going to hurt the most raising minimum wage because most are franchisee or more simple mom & pop stores borrowing a big brand's name.

The most rational thing to do is actually hike corporate taxes of big companies that are hording the money as corporate profit at off shore accounts but that is never discussed here because everyone is busy attacking the administration in charge of anything and everything.

Folks it is not going to benefit you, me or the ones who are only gaining minimum wage because to raise minimum wage is only going to boomerang right back at us.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Because raising everyone's wage merely raises the cost of everything in which leads to raising the price of everything which bings us back to where we started or closing down stores that makes this society convenient.

I disagree, and why you ask? Japanese wages, REAL wages, have been stagnant for at least a decade. THere has been not real growth in the economy, but major corporations have been reporting close to record profits, yet their employees have not seen any raise in income.

Raising wages, WITHOUT a raise in the consumption tax, would increase the spending power of the consumer, which would also increase tax revenues, and get the targeted "inflation" rate to 2% without it being artifically supported by government funding.

There are PLENTY of workers available, Japanese employment numbers/statistics do NOT show the facts regarding those UNDER-EMPLOYED. You work ONE hour here and you are considered to be "gainfully" employed.

That is BS.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I disagree, and why you ask? Japanese wages, REAL wages, have been stagnant for at least a decade. THere has been not real growth in the economy, but major corporations have been reporting close to record profits, yet their employees have not seen any raise in income.

And may I ask where do you think those profit came from?

Not from any retail or strictly domestic project that is for sure.

The profits earned is from abroad and those evolved are sadly to say not of the minimum wage bracket.

As I said simply raising minimum wage is never the solution and actually aggravates the problem since it evades the real source of the problem completely.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

"We've recommended that the tenants convert some of the positions to full time and raise wages but they tell us they can't do that and still make money," he said.

They either will, or suffer the consequences.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Japanese business system is in the danger of crumbling under it's weight of aging society, lower birth rates, stringent immigration rules, stricter over time norms along with pressure on companies tobe more and more profitable..The labor demand and supply inequities keep growing in the face of more legislation. The result- unethical practices, bankruptcy, work related deaths etc.. Urgent reform action is needed from government..

Btw- Since when big corporations cared about housewives? As such the husbands are stressed at work.. Now the family will be stressed too!! Who takes the cost?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

lets see how many companies take note of what is said here!!

I would strongly suggest you do not hold your breath waiting, as the companies that matter, dont spend their time reading JT. Like it or not, in the hierarchy of "press" in Japan, JT is not what one would consider mainstream.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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