On March 29, the Ministry of Labour launched a new service through the Internet providing information on job openings that are listed at 12 Hellowork or Public Employment Security Offices in Tokyo. More than 30,000 items covering about 100,000 job vacancies can be checked through this site (http://www.hellowork.go.jp/). The ministry plans to expand the service area to other large cities while monitoring the effectiveness of the service in Tokyo.
When an individual's name, age, desired employment contract, required wage, holiday provisions, type of job, and area are input, a list of matched job openings appears on the screen along with other details such as the job duties, wages offered, and the maximum age. Company names and addresses, however, are withheld at this stage. On finding a suitable opening through the Internet, the job seeker goes to a Hellowork office and receives advice and an introduction to the company. The vacancy information is updated daily.
The homepage also offers information for job seekers on the procedures for filling out job applications and applying for employment insurance, and for enterprises it explains procedures for registering vacancies and applying for various subsidies. It also provides the latest data on the labor market.
With the deteriorating employment situation, Public Employment Security Offices across the country are inundated with job seekers. Accordingly, many individuals are unable to get prompt service. The offices have attempted to improve their services in several ways. Until recently, one could not access job information without going to an office, and the number of computers available in the offices was limited. They now make it possible for job seekers to glance through job vacancy notices on a computer, without inspecting notice cards. Since February, three offices in Tokyo and Osaka are open on Saturdays and weekday evenings.
The Ministry of Labour is pushing ahead with setting up Hellowork Information Plazas near train terminals across the country. It plans to install about 20 personal computers at each place, enabling job hunters to seek vacancy information on their own. The plazas will be exclusively for providing vacancy information and will not offer counseling service.
In 1997 the number of new business start-ups was less than the number of business shutdowns for the first time in 40 years, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry has revealed. The ratio of new business start-ups is calculated by dividing the number of enterprises newly registered with the Ministry of Justice by the total number of registered corporate enterprises as estimated by the National Tax Administration Agency. In 1997 the ratio hit an all-time low of 3.5 percent, down 0.4 points from the previous year. The ratio of business shutdowns leaped by 2.2 points to 4.5 percent under the impact of the recession, outnumbering the ratio of start-ups for the first time since 1957.
To reverse this trend and halt the decline in business start-ups, the government is taking various steps to generate new businesses. One step is in the form of training and seminars. The government provides training to those who intend to set up a firm, providing them with knowledge of the management issues involved in starting a business. It also sponsors seminars concerning methods of enterprise creation, the basics of business management, market information, and so on.
Another support is in the form of financing. For example, under a loan scheme for management improvement of small businesses, an unsecured loan of ¥5.5 million (at an annual interest rate of 2.6 percent) is available for new business starters who have six years' continuous experience in a similar type of enterprise. Also, the Small Business Finance Corporation and the People's Finance Corporation have set up a new preferential interest rate scheme for fledgling enterprises which have within the last five years been established by women or men aged 55 or over. Both corporations have set the interest rate at 2.55 percent, 0.05 points below the current standard interest rate of 2.6 percent. More than 5,000 enterprises will be assisted by the two schemes in fiscal 1999.
A third form of assistance comes from subsidies related to securing human resources. In the case of new enterprises, the government will subsidize one-third of the wages of workers taken on as regular insured employees. When the expense of establishing or improving an existing employment-management system to enter a new line of business exceeds ¥200,000, the government will subsidize half the amount up to ¥1 million. It will also subsidize three-quarters of the expenses needed to educate and train employees when a new firm switches to a different line of business. It will also cover three-quarters of the wage costs of such employees during the training period.
Finally, the owner of a small or medium-sized company in the manufacturing or information technology sector can, within five years of his firm's establishment, claim a special 30 percent rebate or a seven percentage tax exemption on machinery and equipment.
Through such measures as these, the government aims to stimulate economic activity and to create employment opportunities.
Please be advised that the title of the article Public Policy in the May 1999 issue of the JLB Employment Security Law Revised: Job-Placement Services Liberalized shoud have read The Bill Revising Employment Security Law Submitted to the Diet Session. We apologize for the error.
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