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Reshaping the Japanese Workplace: Can “Work-Style Reform” Succeed?

As part of its ongoing effort to place the Japanese economy on a sustainable growth trajectory, the government of Prime Minister Abe Shinzō has drawn up a plan for “work-style reform” aimed at limiting overtime, reducing wage disparities, and encouraging more active workforce participation by women and seniors. But what will it really take to wean employers from practices that most of Japanese society takes for granted? In this series, analysts assess the reform plan released at the end of last March and assess the prospects for meaningful change.

Japan’s New Labor Laws and the Need to Shift from a Culture of Excessive Working HoursKuroda Sachiko

The Diet has voted to approve the government’s plans to reform the way people work in Japan. But will the new legislation really have the desired effect, or is there a risk that some of the new rules may end up making matters worse?

Trying Out Teleworking at Nippon.comMasuda Miki

As working from home gradually becomes an option for company workers in Japan, has instituted its own system allowing employees with young children to telecommute. How are the workers making use of this new flexibility?

Reality Check on Work-Style Reform: Filling In the Big PictureTsuru Kōtarō

Economist Tsuru Kōtarō assesses the virtues, failings, and implications of the government’s action plan for “work-style reform” in a political and economic context and discusses the challenges that lie ahead.

Work-Life Balance Holds the Key to Japan’s FutureKomuro Yoshie

Japan has changed fundamentally since the era of rapid economic growth, yet Japanese companies remain wedded to an obsolete workplace culture in which core employees, overwhelmingly male, are expected to work grueling hours while leaving domestic matters to their wives. Business consultant Komuro Yoshie argues for government incentives and supports to promote a work-life balance suited to Japan's rapidly aging society.

Long Road Ahead for True Labor ReformYamada Hisashi

On March 28, Prime Minister Abe Shinzō’s government released a “plan of action,” approved by labor and business leaders, for labor reforms targeting long working hours and excessive wage and benefit disparities. Labor scholar Yamada Hisashi cautions that the plan, while well intentioned, omits important steps needed to ensure meaningful reform and avoid unintended consequences.

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