The revisions to the Labour Standards Law, which came into effect on April 1, 1999, have loosened restrictions on working women. They allow women to work at night between 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. the following morning, a practice which had been generally prohibited in the past. As a result, automakers are increasing the number of women working in their factories. The increased use of women workers is seen as a means of offsetting the decline in the number of young people coming into the labor force and the further aging of the population.
Mazda Motors, for instance, hired 60 women in skilled jobs this spring. The company had not hired female skilled workers since 1995, but it assigned women to the engine and transmission assembly lines at a plant near its head office and at its Hofu plant in Yamaguchi Prefecture. From 2000, it plans to assign female skilled workers to the body assembly line. Mazda has expressed its intention to increase its hiring of skilled women workers. Local people look forward to seeing these plans implemented, making it less difficult for local women to find jobs.
Toyota Motor Corporation has started a line in each of two plants where women constitute the major work force. Already, approximately 440 women are engaged in skilled jobs in the company. This spring, the company employed 120 skilled women workers and plans to increase its female skilled labor force to around 1,000 early in 2000. At Nissan Motors about 120 female skilled workers are working in its plants. The company hired another 60 in skilled jobs this spring.
Individual automakers are responding to the increased hiring of females by further improving their dorms for single people, women's bathrooms and locker rooms. They are also improving the work environment and reviewing safety standards in their production divisions, investing in lighter tools and reducing operations which involve stooping.
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