Issues such as the gender gap in opportunities for work experience and

Issues such as the gender gap in opportunities for

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Issues such as the gender gap in opportunities for work experience and opportunities for advancement perpetuated through largely gender-segregated internal career track systems such as the distinction between the managerial career track ( sogo shoku ) and the clerical career track ( ippan shoku ), wage discrimination towards non-regular employees of which a higher percentage are women, and making long working hours a requirement for managerial positions all constitute
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Discuss Japan—Japan Foreign Policy Forum No. 32 indirect discrimination against women. (3) Switch from working styles that depend on long working hours and place an emphasis on labor productivity per day to working styles that emphasize labor productivity per hour. Japan’s per- hour productivity is in fact lower than that of many other OECD countries, and the degree of female human resource utilization is higher than Japan in all of the OECD countries with higher per-hour productivity than Japan. (4) Make it easier to gauge the productivity of individuals by clarifying their job descriptions, enhance the autonomy given to workers (white collar workers in particular) in terms of time management, and establish rules that give opportunities for advancement and promotion based on evaluations of job performance rather than long working hours. (5) Introduce measures to promote work-life balance not for the welfare of employees but as measures to utilize human resources. However, as I mentioned at the beginning, it is quite difficult to reform Japanese employment systems which have developed in a mutually complementary way through the independent efforts of companies. On this point I believe that legislation on the following three points is necessary. The first two points in particular will require companies to undertake a fundamental reconsideration of Japan’s customary dependence on long working hours. (A) Limitations on maximum working hours. For example, set a 55-hour work week as a principle for maximum working hours, in keeping with the spirit of limited hours set forth in the Labor Standards Act. (B) As is the case in countries such as the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark, guarantee employees the right to select their working hours to a certain extent without penalty in Japan as well. (C) Revise the extremely limited definition of indirect discrimination against women in Japan’s revised Equal Employment Opportunity Act, for example, switching to a more comprehensive Anglo- American definition. To add one more point in closing, promoting the success of women must not be simply a means to an economic growth strategy. By allowing a diverse range of individuals to live their lives more freely and enabling their latent abilities to flourish, as a consequence empowering each person to live better lives and make greater contributions to society, will revitalize economic organizations and society alike.
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  • Spring '14

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