Legal Issues of Working Hours and the Direction of Reforms

Author Name MIZUMACHI Yuichiro  (the University of Tokyo)
Creation Date/NO. February 2010 10-J-012
Download / Links


The most critical task in changing the approach to work is to discuss problems and the direction of problem solving between labor and management and advance reforms under the leadership of workplaces. It is also important to impose legal restrictions on dehumanizing work approaches and legally encourage constructive discussions between the parties on both sides of labor and management.

Looking at problems associated with working hours in Japan, the key reform points are as follows: (1) address the problem of working long hours, (2) rearrange and restructure legal systems to deal with the diversification of workers (divergence between the law and the actual state), and (3) take systematic (preventive) measures against health problems (including those covered by (2)). To that end, it will be necessary to amend and improve relevant laws, such as the Labor Standards Act, the Industrial Safety and Health Act etc.

To achieve these reforms and change the way Japanese work, it is also important to not only improve the laws related to working hours, but also to hold broad and fundamental discussions on the basis of the legal system to achieve organic cooperation with other systems, the relationship with the Japan-style employment system behind the legal system, and the construction of an effective legal system to meet policy requests.

This paper discusses the legal issues of working hours in Japan and the direction of reforms from the standpoint of labor and employment laws.