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Japan—Public Policy Brief

by Masa Higo and Atsuhiro Yamada

July 2009—The Global Policy Brief on public policy in Japan discusses the most significant Japanese legislation providing an introduction to policies pertinent to quality of employment in contemporary Japan. The report highlights the current problems in Japan such as labor shortages and the employment gap. The employment gap separates desirable jobs from undesirable ones, and permanent/regular employees from temporary/part-time/irregular employees. Movement between the groups is difficult, and differences in pay and benefits make quality of life drastically different in the two groups.

The brief examines the outdated government policies that support this and other social issues, and the new programs designed to address them. Such programs include the government run Gender Equality Bureau, in place since 1999, and widespread government programs designed to improve the employment situations of older workers, many of whom are employed as irregular workers.

The balance sought in Japan today is one between the need for more jobs and achieving a satisfactory level of job quality for all workers. Japan’s post-war workplace culture developed much without the quality insurances necessary in so large and powerful an economy, and now public policy is working maintain an adequate number of job while maintaining and improving quality life for workers and the elder members of Japan’s aging population

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