RIETI Policy Symposium

Pay and Benefits System Reform and Post-3/11 Labor and Employment Policy

  • Program


In March 2011, Japan was hit by the devastating earthquake just as its economy was beginning to recover from the global financial and economic crisis that deepened in the autumn of 2008. The quake and subsequent tsunami caused a major nuclear power plant accident, which has led to a power supply crisis. And all the while, the yen has been rising rapidly against other major currencies. In the face of this turn of events, there have been renewed concerns over the hollowing out of the economy. While coping with the crisis of such complex nature, Japan must promote the steady recovery and reconstruction from the disaster, which remains a task of urgent necessity.

However, structural issues that must be addressed for the future remain unchanged before and after the quake. The Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI) has to date organized several policy symposiums on employment and labor, one of the top priority issues for the Japanese economy. The forthcoming symposium will focus on pay, benefits, and other conditions of employment that are closely related to the formation of human capital by individual workers and their incentives. While it is often pointed out that an economic recovery amid deflation may not distribute sufficient benefits to workers, the problem of disparities between the so-called "regular workers" (full-time permanent employees) and "non-regular workers" (less privileged workers such as part-time workers and fixed-term contract workers) is emerging as a particularly pressing issue requiring robust policy responses. At the same time, however, the treatment of full-time permanent employees is now moving toward greater diversity as companies grope for ways to adapt to the new reality where, while significant changes in the traditional Japanese employment system have weakened seniority-based nature in many companies' pay systems, there has been a significant backlash against an excessive shift to performance-based pay systems.

In light of the above observations, Part I of this policy symposium will examine the treatment of workers in terms of pay, benefits, and other conditions from the viewpoint of economics and business management theories, providing a bird's eye view of problems and responses, followed by presentations and discussions on changes in the Japanese employment system as seen in wage profiles, the relationship between workers' status and corresponding wage premiums, and new employment systems that go beyond and can possibly replace the performance-based systems. Part II will focus on equitable treatment for non-regular workers and the type of worker-management relation required for its realization. Presentations will be made from the perspective of legal theory, discussing various relevant issues including the status of policy discussions within the government. Part III will be a penal discussion session, in which individuals representing the academic, business, and labor communities will be brought together to discuss employment conditions after the quake, policy measures taken by the government, and so forth.


  • Time and Date: 10:00-18:05, Friday, December 2, 2011
  • Venue: Iino Hall and Conference Center (2-1-1 Uchisaiwai-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo)
  • Language: Japanese
  • Hosts: Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI)


10:00 - 10:05 Opening Remarks

NAKAJIMA Atsushi (Chairman, RIETI)

10:05 - 10:45 Presentation (Overview)

TSURU Kotaro (Senior Fellow, RIETI)

10:45 - 12:35 Part I: Pay, Benefits, and Other Conditions of Employment (Approach from the viewpoint of economics and business management theory)

10:45 - 11:25 Presentation: Changes in the Japanese Employment System as Seen in Wage Profiles

KAWAGUCHI Daiji (Faculty Fellow, RIETI / Associate Professor, Faculty of Economics, Hitotsubashi University)

11:25 - 12:05 Presentation: Examining Wage Premiums as Compensation for the Lack of Work/Life Balance

YAMAMOTO Isamu (Associate Professor, Faculty of Business and Commerce, Keio University)

12:05 - 12:35 Q&A Session

12:35 - 13:30 Lunch Break

13:30 - 15:10 Part II: Equitable Treatment and Labor-Management Relations (Approach from the viewpoint of legal theory)

13:30 - 14:00 Presentation: Legal Principles for Addressing Disparities between Regular and Non-regular workers

MIZUMACHI Yuichiro (Professor, Institute of Social Science, the University of Tokyo)

14:00 - 14:30 Presentation: Legislative Steps toward Achieving More Equitable Treatment of Non-regular Workers

TAKEUCHI (OKUNO) Hisashi (Associate Professor, College of Law and Politics, Rikkyo University)

14:30 - 14:50 Comment and Presentation

SHIMADA Yoichi (Professor of Law, Waseda University)

14:50 - 15:10 Q&A Session

15:10 - 15:30 Coffee Break

15:30 - 18:00 Part III: Panel Discussion on Employment Conditions and Labor Policy after the Quake

15:30 - 15:45 Presentation: Current State of Employment Conditions in Affected Areas and Employment Promotion Programs

FUJISAWA Katsuhiro (Director, Employment Policy Division, Employment Security Bureau, Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare)


HIGUCHI Yoshio (Professor, Faculty of Business and Commerce, Keio University)

Panelists (alphabetical order):

OGINO Katsuhiko (General Manager, Industrial Affairs Dept., Government & Industrial Affairs Div.,Toyota Motor Corporation)

OTAKE Fumio (Professor, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University)

HASEGAWA Yuko (Executive Director, Department of Working Conditions, JTUC-RENGO)

17:30 - 18:00 Q&A Session

18:00 - 18:05 Closing Remarks

MORIKAWA Masayuki (Vice Chairman & Vice President, RIETI)

18:05 - 19:05 Reception