Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has recently come out to make the case for “same work, same pay.” Call me a cynic, but I suspect an ulterior motive. For years, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s policies have focused on helping prop up struggling corporations and their managers, with working people treated as more of a nuisance. It is therefore hard to believe that the LDP has suddenly grown a heart that aches over the travails of millions of unemployed, underemployed, underpaid, unpaid and otherwise un-somethinged workers.
June 17th, 2016 1:25 PM
Tokyo District Court on Friday overturned Japan’s Pension Agency’s 2011 decision rejecting Tozen member Yancey Co’s appeal to enroll in Japan’s shakai hoken health and pension scheme.
Co’s employer Berlitz Japan had kicked him off shakai hoken in 2008, after his work hours apparently fell below 30 hours per week in the wake of the global financial crisis.
The 30-hour, or 3/4 of a full timer, threshold can be found nowhere in labor law but rather in the agency’s internal memo dated June 6, 1980.
The English language instructor from Vancouver, Canada, had asked the agency to force Berlitz to enroll him but through three appeals the agency ruled against him.
After four and a half years of litigation, Tozen Union sees the Friday victory as a partial victory only.
“We insisted that the memo has no legal force and should not be used to kick someone off shakai hoken,” said Louis Carlet, an executive of Tozen Union. “We were hoping the court would declare the memo illegal. Unfortunately the judge didn’t go that far.”
Tozen Attorney Shoichi Ibuski said, “This is one step forward and we hope to use this to go further still.”
(See video presentation below.)
Many of our members are not Japanese and work at small or very small companies. Working at small companies has many advantages: it’s often more human and you have a direct relationship with the boss. However, if there are problems, those good points often turn into bad ones, since you can be on the receiving end of arbitrary decisions that are difficult to remedy, especially if you do not know your rights. Let’s take an example of a common problem that we at Tozen have to deal with quite often: illegal dismissal.
Elles ne donneront pas leur nom et n’apparaîtront pas en photo. La honte, la timidité, le «dégoût» de soi et la peur de perdre leur emploi sont toujours vifs. Il leur a donc fallu «beaucoup d’énergie pour trouver la force de parler», de nommer les choses et de préciser les gestes. Avant de porter plainte et d’entreprendre une action en justice, qui aura peut-être une issue ce mardi lors d’une nouvelle audience au tribunal de Kobe.
A.T. et Y.T. ont toutes les deux 24 ans et leur histoire illustre comment le harcèlement sexuel peut être, au Japon également, une réalité aussi triviale que répandue dans le monde du travail. En mars, un rapport du gouvernement révélait qu’un tiers des employées étaient harcelées sexuellement. Sur les 1 700 femmes qui ont accepté de répondre à l’enquête, 40 % citaient des cas d’attouchements non désirés. Et 63 % ont choisi de ne rien dire.
On May 4, a tiny cafe in Tokyo’s Koenji neighborhood was transformed into an informal meeting hall. Porn-film kingpins (and a “queenpin”) had called an “emergency meeting” to respond to a recently released report by Human Rights Now (HRN).
On March 3, the international NGO, which is based in Tokyo and has U.N. special consultative status, reported the results of an in-depth investigation into the pornography business in Japan. The report concluded that the industry had violated the human rights of women and girls through means such as blackmail, virtual enslavement and seeking illegal breach-of-contract damages from women who try to back out of films after being persuaded or duped into acting in them.
June 6, 1980, was a Friday. The Social Insurance Agency quietly issued an untitled internal memo called a naikan regarding the eligibility of part-timers in Japan’s shakai hoken health and pension program. Who could have known what chaos, confusion and frustration that single-page document would cause in the coming decades? Let’s get our hands dirty and dig through the details.
Today, let’s take a look at three shiny new news items from the gossip columns that take on a different sheen when examined under the piercing light of labor law. These human-interest stories have a common theme, which I’ll address later. But first, the stories:
This month’s Labor Pains is not really about a labor issue per se. The life of a worker is more than work. We don’t toil from cradle to grave.
There are times when we cannot work due to sickness or injury, although in Japan, many force themselves to labor through both, as indeed my translator and editor happen to be doing at this very moment. Unhealthy devotion to work is a serious problem in our society, so I’m a bit of a hypocrite to ask them for their help despite their painful injuries.
There are also times when we cannot find work despite being able-bodied. Today, I’d like to talk about the system in place to protect you when all other safety nets fail. I want to discuss the difference in the rights foreign and Japanese citizens have when it comes to seikatsu hogo, or welfare. I want to dispel the profound misunderstandings surrounding the 2014 Supreme Court verdict about the right foreign residents have — or don’t have — to welfare.