| ILLUSTRATION BY CHRIS MACKENZIE

Japan sees progress on sexual harassment, but some still don’t get it

BY HIFUMI OKUNUKI

Once upon a time, the English word “harassment” was unfamiliar to Japanese ears. Over the past quarter-century the word has burrowed its way deep into the collective consciousness, at times even replacing the Japanese word iyagarase. Today one would be hard-put to find a citizen unfamiliar with the English version and its many derivatives (see below). … Read more
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「ちゃんと休ませてくれ!」―労働法における「休憩」って?

労働法と一言でいっても、そのなかには、さまざまな個別のテーマがある。たとえば、賃金、労働時間、配転、人事評価、解雇、営業譲渡、労働災害などなど。そのなかでも、あまり重きを置かれていないものに「休憩」がある。労働法の体系書を見ても、「休憩」に割くページ数は、他のテーマに比べるとかなり少ない。そもそも「労働」法とは、まさに「働くこと」がメインの法律なのだから、その対極にある「休むこと」については、あまり重視されていないのだろうか?  … Read more

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Under Japanese law, breaks are sacred and standby counts as work

Labor law covers a great deal of territory, from wages, work hours, transfers and performance evaluation to dismissals, selling of business rights and industrial accidents. One subject often overlooked is break time or kyūkei. My labor law encyclopedia devotes far fewer pages to this subject than just about any other topic. It is, after all, labor law, not “rest law.” … Read more

yoimuriPENSION

800,000 firms likely dodged pension scheme

The Yomiuri Shimbun

About 800,000 small and midsize companies are strongly suspected of evading their legal obligation to join the public pension scheme for company employees, according to the results of a joint investigation by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry and the National Tax Agency.

The ministry identified the companies that have likely not joined the pension scheme by examining data provided by the tax agency.

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Japan College of Foreign Languages Local Conducts Recruitment Leafleting, Braves Illegal and Dangerous Management Harassment

JCFL Members braved the rain and management harassment on Thursday, January 22 to conduct a recruitment leafleting to in front of the JCFL Takadanobaba campus during their lunch break.

At 12:30, Case officer Gerome Rothman and three union members arrived at the front gate. They began leafleting instructors and staff.

Shortly after the union began, management deployed several non-union staffers to interfere with the leafleting. Management first told the union they would call the police. The union responded by insisting management stop interfering with our legitimate union activity.

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zainichee

Forty years after Zainichi labor case victory, is Japan turning back the clock?

I was hoping to start off the Year of the Sheep in a subdued, “sheepish” fashion, but bad news just keeps on coming. The ruling coalition is working hard to push through a bill to abolish overtime pay for high-income workers and another to deregulate temp-agency employment (haken). These bills will hurt the conditions of all workers in Japan, including foreigners.

Speaking of foreign workers, I’d like to focus this month on how labor laws in Japan handle the issue of nationality. But first, a detour:

Japanese society over the past couple of years has taken a dangerous turn toward extreme nationalism. My husband noted, “Since 2014, both NHK and the private broadcasters have changed how they refer to Japan, from using the word Nihon to Nippon.” The latter was used during World War II and is associated with jingoistic militarism. It also has a harsher consonant sound than “Nihon.”

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Abe, business heads, labor unions agree on efforts for wage growth

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration crafted a joint statement Tuesday with leaders of business organizations and labor unions, aiming to bolster the economy through wage growth.

At a trilateral meeting, Abe also urged large manufacturers, which have benefited from the yen’s slide, to trade with their subcontracting companies at higher prices to allow the effects of his “Abenomics” policy mix to trickle down to smaller firms and local economies. … Read more

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Toyota labor unions to demand minimum ¥6,000 pay hike

NAGOYA – The federation of labor unions at Toyota Motor Corp. said Friday it plans to make a unified demand for a pay-scale hike of at least ¥6,000 per month during the spring wage talks this year.It will be the Federation of All Toyota Workers’ Union’s biggest request since 2002, when comparable figures were first kept. … Read more
Legally grounded: Taeko Uchida, who heads a group of 72 former Japan Airlines cabin attendants dismissed by the company, holds a news conference in Tokyo on March 30, 2012, after the Tokyo District Court earlier in the day ruled against a lawsuit filed by the group over the dismissals. Uchida is now awaiting the Supreme Court’s verdict in the case. | KYODO

空の労働者、JAL165名不当解雇の闘いに連帯を

~原告団長内田妙子さんインタビュー~

2010年大晦日。世間の多くの人びとは、慌ただしく新年を迎える準備をしながら、ワクワクと心躍らせていたことだろう。そんななか、日本屈指の航空会社、鶴のトレードマークで有名なJAL(日本航空)で働く165名の労働者らは、大晦日に会社からクビを切られた。パイロット81名と客室乗務員84名。長年、誇りと情熱をもって空の安全を守るために仕事に従事してきた彼らは、なぜ、大晦日に仕事を奪われなければならなかったのだろうか。

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Legally grounded: Taeko Uchida, who heads a group of 72 former Japan Airlines cabin attendants dismissed by the company, holds a news conference in Tokyo on March 30, 2012, after the Tokyo District Court earlier in the day ruled against a lawsuit filed by the group over the dismissals. Uchida is now awaiting the Supreme Court’s verdict in the case. | KYODO

Standing up to the country’s flagship carrier

Credibility of justice system in spotlight as highest court to make ruling on JAL layoffs
BY HIFUMI OKUNUKI

Kuala Lumpur, 1977. The rain came down in torrents. The control tower instructed pilots to circle the airport pending better weather. The pilots had the option to divert to a nearby airport where things were quieter. Japan Airlines (JAL) was pushing its employees to cut costs, and the pilot of JAL’s DC8-60 decided not to divert and to circle until the rain let up.

But the rain did not yield. The DC8-60 ran low on fuel and was forced to land come what may. Eight of the 10 crew and 26 of 29 passengers perished in the ensuing crash. This tragedy would inspire one JAL employee, Taeko Uchida, to get serious about union activism in a way that would decades later find her leading a legal and labor battle against Japan’s flagship carrier.

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