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Over 3 mil freelancers in Japan amid rise of flexible working styles

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I envy them. Until I enter the office I feel free and happy then the pressure and intimidation begins. I think or hope that the old style big office way of working in a cubicle surrounded by others fades away. It really is a feudal system to allow a few lords to exploit and intimidate the mass of workers.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Analysts expect the number of freelancers to grow amid the government's push for more flexible working arrangements to address the country's labor shortage, as more companies are allowing employees to take on second or side jobs to increase their incomes.

Comedy gold. Salaries are so bad that workers need two jobs just to make ends meet presented as the kindness of the government by Japan's Pravda. What's the betting State Broadcaster will soon be running a series of stories about happy Taro Suzuki cheerfully working 16 hours a day in two jobs to pay for extra vegetables?

16 ( +18 / -2 )

submitting a bill to the Diet next year for a new law aimed at enhancing transparency in business practices.

Bwahahaha! I'll believe this when I see it. Over 60% of the workforce are on semi-permanent contracts with a five-year limit, yearly evaluations, no job security, low salaries, mandatory overtime and constantly have the axe hanging over their heads waiting to be fired for the slightest indiscretion like, requesting to take paid leave. It should be no surprise many people are pursuing other avenues of employment to beat this farcical situation.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

I wonder how many of these people are considered marriage material.

Freelancing is great if you're a programmer, a designer, a translator, etc. and sitting in your house or a cafe somewhere with a decent number of orders in. It's something else when you're a carpenter and having to go to the same job site as full employees and getting 1.1 times the normal daily rate with no other benefits and only when work is available.

The rebuilding of Tohoku, the Olympics, and the consumption tax will mean construction will have had some busy years. Expect that to crash massively next year.

Uber Eats isn't really freelancers. That's gig economy, zero hour contracts.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Fantastic news, Salerys are so bad that now having two jobs is the norm. While companies make huge profits, and still demand unpaid overtime? Oh wait there's a tax increase coming that should be a real positive thing for workers. What's that Abe? You want more children....good luck with that. Can't have much of a relationship let alone a family working two jobs to pay for your salery.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Comedy gold. Salaries are so bad that workers need two jobs just to make ends meet presented as the kindness of the government by Japan's Pravda. What's the betting State Broadcaster will soon be running a series of stories about happy Taro Suzuki cheerfully working 16 hours a day in two jobs to pay for extra vegetables?

Exactly! Well said Alfie. Beyond that, the same bordering-on-religious-cult-loyalty will still be the order of the day for the workforce and expected by senior management types despite moving as far away as possible from the lifetime employment security that ( assume/hope) birthed such fanatical fidelity in the first place.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Actually think that Japan's a pretty good country to start your freelancing career if:

-you're lucky enough to live outside of Tokyo

-you're mid-career (40s) and have a fair bit of $ in the bank

-you're not married and/or don't have to financially support others (your partner makes decent$)

can afford to/ don't want to join the rat race (again).

It's a lifestyle choice.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Freelancing is not all that in Japan. You are not enrolled in the pension system, you need a separate health insurance which is more expensive than the one given by the company etc. Of course, if you make enough money by only freelancing you can get these insurances but many are freelancing as a second gig.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Don’t believe the freelancer title. In the University I work at as well as a few other Universities that I know of, the professors and lecturers are mostly freelancers. The reason Freelancer has become popular for companies is because it saves them on having to worry about benefits. It’s the same way 3, 4, and 6 month contracts have recents become the norm for residents. It’s helps companies avoid paying benefits for certain employees. Even things such as overtime.

Most of these freelance professors and lecturers don’t get paid preparation time or grading time for classes. Furthermore, the class sizes have been increasing a lot. So grading now takes up a lot more time and because you are a freelancer, you don’t get paid for things like that.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Eat your breakfast somewhere in Osaka, meet a client in Kyoto, have a lunch in Kobe, meet a business partner in Yokohama, dinner in Tokyo.

Freelancing is not for everyone.

I love this lifestyle but sometimes I envy those people who go every single day to the same place to earn their money. Google Maps dries up half of my battery everyday.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

So now all those homeless guys hanging around the park waiting for some day labor are now "freelancers"?

Haken (派遣 - dispatch workers) rebranded? I noticed the 20% in construction.

Is "freelancers" really the word the government used?

Whoever wrote contractless, benefit-less and insecure workers getting pad a fraction of those working next to them is right.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Freelancing (Contracting) is a double-edged sword.

My experience as a newbie in this field to-date is that you're there to fill a gap. You're buying a transitional period of time, for your Employer. Any Promises of long term employment become quickly seen as falsehoods , particularly when your contributions are quickly attributed to permanent staff members thereby diminishing your role's purpose.

Build a hard skin, and be prepared to move on.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Commentators here are right to question government use of "freelance" as described here. It looks like pasting a trendy label on diverse patterns, some of which have been around since the beginning of the industrial revolution. When I came to Japan in 1971 what this report is calling "freelance construction workers" were called "day laborers."

There is, however, nothing all that Japanese about what is described here. Similar patterns are found in the US and the UK. Blaming this on Abe is ridiculous and ahistorical. The legal changes that made it much easier for a wider range of companies to hire more temporary workers for a greater variety of jobs came during the Koizumi administration more than 15 years ago.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Salerys are so bad that now having two jobs is the norm.

That is the main underlying factor of "womenonics," although when i pointed it out, I was heavily down-voted on this forum.

Before Japan decided on its "structural reforms" in the early 90s, single income households were the norm. Since the shift toward neo-liberalism, it's been 2, while corporations are making the biggest profits in history. The scary thing is how most working people support this system that gives them a smaller share of the national income, and a large share to the super rich.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

It's great to see the government recognizing the issues of negotiating independent contracts here.

Another point companies in Japan are preferring the independent contract strategy is that Japan's labour laws do not allow companies to arbitrary cancel the employment contracts of regular employees.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I have way more than two jobs; two jobs won’t hack it these days!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Another point companies in Japan are preferring the independent contract strategy is that Japan's labour laws do not allow companies to arbitrary cancel the employment contracts of regular employees.

"Regular" employees are not on contracts here! People on "contracts" are contracted, and these companies using independent contractors are doing the same thing as with their "regular" employees.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Many years ago as an English teacher in Osaka I was pulling in 40-50 man yen a month and paid little tax. I had private lessons here and there and was out and about all day. It is a profitable niche. If I do it again I would probably go into translating and editing.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

They are feelancing because companies do not want to take on any full time employees until there is an uptick in demand. As long as so many people are working paycheck to paycheck without a safety net, there is little chance that demand will increase. Japan has been caught in this negative spiral since the bubble burst, and it's clear nobody in the government knows how to solve this problem - by raising the minimum wage, cutting taxes for low earners, means testing pension and govt assistance payments, providing tax breaks for companies that hire full time, and taxing profits held offshore by Japanese corporations.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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