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Japan labor leader vows to fight for stable, better work conditions

34 Comments
By MARI YAMAGUCHI and ELAINE KURTENBACH

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34 Comments
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The problem is that Japan actually has strong labour laws. Routinely ignored. Every day I hear about shocking voilations of the labour laws.

And this not only about women. What about fighting for equity for all workers? That includes foreigners by the way.

Lip stick on a pig..... Hopefully not.

16 ( +20 / -4 )

Japan labor leader vows to fight for stable, better work conditions

You know she is serious because in the interview she is making that weakly clenched fist. You even get double later on!

But it has not pushed wages appreciably higher -- real incomes adjusted for inflation have been falling for most of the past 30 years. And increasing numbers of workers are "non-regular" without full benefits.

Rengo couldn't even do the minimal on its watch as these people were ravaged by the pandemic. Enhanced unemployment benefits extended to p/t and contract workers. Payroll protection so that businesses receiving pandemic stimulus subsidies were required to keep paying staff salaries.

The bare minimum done by every other first world nation, and common sense and fairness if you think about it.

Rengo's silence on these issues, especially given its' incestuous relationship with Keidanren, is deafening.

8 ( +12 / -4 )

"Haken" and "ukeoi" are cancers on Japanese society.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

The problem is that Japan actually has strong labour laws. Routinely ignored.

Very true.

Every day I hear about shocking voilations of the labour laws.

I experience them

And this not only about women. What about fighting for equity for all workers? That includes foreigners by the way.

HAHAHA! Yeah!!! Good luck with THAT!!! We are the experiment as to how far they can get away with exploitation..

Lip stick on a pig..... Hopefully not

Well said.

Rengo couldn't even do the minimal on its watch as these people were ravaged by the pandemic. Enhanced unemployment benefits extended to p/t and contract workers. Payroll protection so that businesses receiving pandemic stimulus subsidies were required to keep paying staff salaries.

The bare minimum done by every other first world nation, and common sense and fairness if you think about it.

Well we did get those Abe no masks...

Rengo's silence on these issues, especially given its' incestuous relationship with Keidanren, is deafening.

welcome to Japan.

5 ( +13 / -8 )

She hates communism party so much, has old persecutory delusion like McCarthyism against JCP.

During election campaign last month, she and Rengo continued to denounce and interfere election campaign of opposition parties despite support group of opposition CDP, and prioritized to discredit cooperation with JCP than increasing seat.

Besides, part of Rengo urged even to vote to ruling parties who increased un-regular workers or disadvantageous laws for workers, not opposition parties who try to assist poverty class including workers.

Rengo including her is very irrational group who has abnormal hostility against minority party JCP than ruling party LDP who doesn't improve salary or working conditions.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Think she has my hourly wage in her clenched fist.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

David BrentToday  

"Haken" and "ukeoi" are cancers on Japanese society.

Both of these practices are even more widespread in the U.S. as a way to screw over workers.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

Rengo is mere accomplices of ruling party and large corporation group of Japan.

Workers in Japan are still exploited, foreigner technical trainees are treated like slave as ever.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

One this I noticed while here is that young women and mother and elder ladies go to a 4 years school take extra training and educate themselves to the teeth and yet almost all major companies refuse to pay the same salary as men, and in many cases they will not even hire.

The labor unions and the justice system are weak and do not go after violators and until that changes by giving them some strong anti discrimination laws thins will just STAY AS IS, the good old fashion way.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

From what I have experienced, this is all talk and no bite at all. Just more hot air.

9 ( +13 / -4 )

The most urgent issue is to secure stable employment.

No it isn't. No. 1 priority is higher wages, in line with the extraordinary corporate profit growth of recent years. The corporates will trade off decent pay for stability, and the working class will remain stuck in a cycle of complacent exploitation.

Raising wages of the lowest-paid workers in service industries is difficult because they already are operating with thin margins.

If they cant make money without exploiting their workers, then they should be allowed or encouraged to go out of business. The exploitation cycle will never end otherwise.

...salaries of people working in nursing and elder care are set by the government and are a huge and growing cost for the country. Raising taxes to pay for such increases is politically untenable...,

It's also economically unnecessary. Japan can and does issue deficit covering bonds and then have the BOJ buy those bonds, with the coupon payments returned to the MoF and the deficit disappearing when the bonds come to term. I know it's doable because that is exactly what is taking place - with no strains on the fiscal or monetary systems.

This woman isn't just clueless - she's dangerous to working people.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

Rengo has stepped up efforts to encourage labor organizing among "non-regular" workers, such as those on temporary contracts, part-timers and freelancers, a large share of whom are women.

Okay, I haven't looked much into it, so there might actually be some substance behind this. However, given how much exposure Rengo gets in mainstream J media, I am almost confident that this is just empty talk with a few buzzwords thrown in to make them look like the good guys. Like when an LDP candidate says they will make efforts to promote equality for women, LGBT+ and disabled (that party wouldn't go as far as including non-Japanese), but don't mention any specific policies and continue with practices that marginalise these very groups.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

She is playing two handed janken

1 ( +4 / -3 )

She should try and raise productivity too so companies can afford to pay higher wages

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Can we please prioritize fighting for 4-day work week? This week's national holiday on Wednesday really left an impression this is a good idea.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Japan has fairly strict labour laws. Compared to several EU countries, it's even stricter. Unfortunately, they are just ignored and the ignoring itself is also tolerated, publicly.

The most common, and easiest, is the play on words. How to avoid overtime pay and overtime reporting altogether? Like "it wasn't overtime, it was just voluntary work that the employee didn't complete. Moreover, he agreed to this work himself" and so on. Over the last three decades, so many PMs and other ministers have made promises to change working conditions, laws and the overall situation. And virtually nothing has changed since the late 1980s. A few small changes have happened, but we are still more or less in the 80s in that respect. The main problem is lobbying and the ubiquitous geronts in leadership positions. Anyone is short against them, no one dares to oppose them or go against them in any way. This is reflected in the working situation here. And when you add to that the huge inefficiency of work here (20 meetings a day, transcribing data from one SW to Excel, from Excel to another spreadsheet, reports of reports,....), you have a nice Ouroboros.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

If you follow the trend is going towards better. Trying to do better for all citizens, including foreign workers and students.

Is it fast enough? No, Japan is a traditional country. Is not UK when Brexit happen. Not USA a living experiment waiting to see what happens.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Japanese women are required to put on makeup. One woman told me that it's rude/offensive to be makeup free. If it's required then why aren't women given an allowance for makeup? I mean, why aren't companies giving some extra money to the female staff to purchase makeup and skincare potions? I told a few young Japanese girls that I would tell the company that I want a few 万円s; you better not expect me to go shopping at the 100 yen shops! (Nothing wrong with the makeup at 100 yen shops.) They all laughed.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Labor unions are a joke. Yoshino could take all of that enthusiasm and start a business of her own. She could pay her employees huge salaries, give them the best benefits imaginable, and be a model for others. But oddly she takes great pains to beg others to do what she is unwilling to do herself. It’s a joke.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Bla, bla, bla! I lived in Japan for twenty years and heard the same thing from every labor minister, but nothing has changed.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

WolfpackToday  11:20 am JST

Labor unions are a joke.

Right, because employers, CEOs and "wealth creators" can always be relied on to pay fair wages and generally look out for their employees. That's why everyone who lives in a country that subscribes to free market values makes at least $100,000 and owns two houses. Oh - hang on a minute, though....

Yoshino could take all of that enthusiasm and start a business of her own. She could pay her employees huge salaries, give them the best benefits imaginable, and be a model for others.

A model that others would completely ignore.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Good friggin luck trying to get Japan to even consider a healthy work/life balance let alone improving work conditions and a healthy work environment. Japanese people put in some of the longest hours at work but have little to show for it. Their productivity levels are shockingly low because they haven't evolved their work practices since the 80s. Good luck to this lady but I doubt she'll even make a dent in this issue.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

RENGO has been around since 1951 and just now they around to vowing "to fight for stable, better work conditions."

Oh wait, every leader before her has as well. How has that worked out as they collect their high salary with benefits. While the workers they represent get shafted year after year. Just another pyramid scheme aimed at workers.

Who knew.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Good friggin luck trying to get Japan to even consider a healthy work/life balance let alone improving work conditions and a healthy work environment. Japanese people put in some of the longest hours at work but have little to show for it. Their productivity levels are shockingly low because they haven't evolved their work practices since the 80s. Good luck to this lady but I doubt she'll even make a dent in this issue.

Speaking from personal experience, I think there’s some cause for optimism here. In the Japanese company I worked for ( a large, traditional manufacturing company ) there was a shift in attitudes from the younger generation towards a better work-life balance. Those in charge are largely still in line with the ideas you mentioned but they will soon be stripped of their titles.

I think some change will come with the old guard shuffling off rather than the words of the leader of ineffective unions.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Different sex, same stage of fossilisation.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

She is there to heating the seat of Rengo chairmanship. Nothing else

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Discrimination and prejudice and sexism in the workplace in Japan is terrible.

They even make the elderly work until they can't anymore and take advantage of the disabled and pretend their helping them.

Foreign worker's get treated badly and employer's rarely get held accountable.

Many are forced to work overtime illegally and don't get paid for it either.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

She doesn't need to listen to what the problems and issues are. In her position, she should already know.

It's the DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT that needs to start happening.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Yeah, right... the biggest problem with the labor union in Japan is that they do what the big companies want, and do not at all fight for the people. That, or they PRETEND to fight and get strict laws, but don't give one wit about whether they are followed. How much have they done about illegal overtime work? (forgetting Abe's "100 hours a month is okay" BS)? The labor union here is one of the most meaningless middle-man organizations among all middlemen, and that is when none are needed.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Seems to me that in Japan the labor is more like a slavery.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

All said; that’s why I left. Earn considerably more as a truck driver here in the UK than an English Teacher does in Japan.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

No need to vow, that’s just her job. In addition I’d like to know what they’ve done so far through all decades, I guess, nothing at all? Otherwise again no reason to vow anything, because then the situation would be nearly perfect already.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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