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Last Update : Saturday, Nov 19, 2016


JapanGov Weekly

Cabinet Secretariat [Wednesday, Nov 16, 2016]

Council for the Realization of Work Style Reform

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held the third meeting of the Council for the Realization of Work Style Reform, at the Prime Minister’s Office.

At the meeting, there was a discussion on what manner of support for career change to or reemployment opportunities in industries with the capacity to absorb a large amount of employment and high productivity should be aimed at; what manner of ensuring that disparities do not become entrenched through education should be aimed at (further education for working professionals, employment training, what manner of fund-type scholarships should be aimed at); what manner of enhancement of human resource fostering in the labor market should be aimed at; and the direction of wage increases toward the spring employer-employee negotiations.

Based on the discussion, in relation to wage increases, the Prime Minister said,

“The economic policies that we are advancing, that is, Abenomics, has been able to create a positive economic cycle. However, the important thing is to strongly continue this positive cycle. The key to doing so is the wage increases next spring. Chairman Sakakibara seems to be nodding in agreement. I would like to request three things toward the wage increases next spring.

First, since the highest ever level of wage increases since the start of this century has been realized three years in succession, we hope for a level of wage increase of at least the same extent as this year’s. In particular, since an increase in base pay has been implemented three years in succession, I would like you to make this four years in succession.

Second, next spring a rise in consumer commodity prices resulting from an increase in the price of crude oil can be anticipated. I would like you to discuss the wage increase, taking into consideration the desired commodity price increase.

Third, in order to enhance the SME wage increase environment, I would like you to thoroughly address the improvement of transaction terms for subcontractors and other small- and medium-sized enterprises.

I have received a request from Chairman Sakakibara on comprehensive policies such as economic stimulation policies and social security system reform. We have also had statements from relevant ministers. The government will thoroughly tackle these issues. Also, we will address the enhancement of the wage increase environment such as the taxation system and budget measures.”

Further, in regard to support for career change and reemployment, and the fostering of personnel, the Prime Minister said,

“One issue is the return to work or reemployment of women who are currently rearing children. It is a fact that, in Japan, there are many cases where, if women who were formerly regular employees take child-rearing leave, they will have no choice but to continue working only as irregular employees such as part-time workers. This is also a concern in terms of improvement in labor productivity. In order to enhance the environment whereby women can easily be reemployed, according to their stage of life, I would like to focus on ‘recurrent education.’

I have been holding roundtable meetings to directly hear the views of the people. Ms. Naoko Hamada, for example, who was employed as a regular employee after undergoing recurrent education, said, ‘It was a good opportunity to do some self-searching, and to prepare for reemployment. If a housewife just writes her own resume and sends it to a company, she will not be employed. In the course of receiving recurrent education, companies were introduced to us, and for the first time I was able to be reemployed.’ I would like to consider expansion of the subsidy system so that more people can study again.

Further, a survey has found that, in Japan’s case, companies that have reemployment systems that allow a return to work amount to as little as about one-tenth of the total, such as Chairman Sakakibara’s company, Toray. I would like to advance the information disclosure of companies that have such systems.

In regard to the period for child-rearing leave, I would also like to consider moving in the direction whereby an extension of child-rearing leave would be allowed in cases such as when a childcare center has not been found.

There is a trend to a decrease in the cost of educational training per person in private-sector companies. In regard to individual further study, we will increase the amount of funding and seminars conducted to support individual workers in education training subsidy systems.

In regard to career change or reemployment for middle-aged and older persons, there is a trend for companies who have employed such people even once to become proactive in this area. I would like to consider comprehensive environment enhancement such as support for companies that accept such employees and strengthening the employment support system.

Moreover, in relation to irregular employees such as the ‘employment ice-age generation,’ we will implement measures whereby irregular employees who do equal amounts of work as regular employees will be able to equally receive opportunities for educational training, as part of the equal pay for equal work.

As for other matters, we have heard a wide range of valuable views from the members of the Council today. Taking these views into consideration, I would like you to advance the discussions. Thank you.”