-----The Japan Labor Flash No.5------Email Journal December 1, 2003-----
Main Labor Economic Indicators
Number of individual labor dispute consultations increases sharply
in metropolitan Tokyo ...etc
Reform of the personnel evaluation system for local government
employees is making steady progress, a survey by the Japan
Productivity Center for Socio-Economic Development reveals ...etc
Starting salary of college graduates increases by 1.5%, topping
200,000 yen for the first time for male employees ...etc
The November 9 Lower House election: results and the will of
-Main Labor Economic Indicators November 2003-
-Number of individual labor dispute consultations increases sharply
in metropolitan Tokyo-
To deploy the system for resolving individual labor disputes under
the Law for Promoting the Resolution of Individual Labor Disputes,
the Tokyo Labor Bureau has set up labor consultation corners at 21
locations in Tokyo to provide information on methods of resolving
disputes and on how to contact dispute-settlement institutions.
A total of 51,444 requests for consultations were sent in between
April and September of this year, up a slight 7.6% over the same period
last year. Of these, however, 7,294 were requests for consultations
on individual civil labor disputes, up a staggering 148.3% over the
By content of consultation, the largest number of requests--33.0%--
pertained to dismissals, followed by lowering of labor conditions
(15.5%), and bullying and harassment (9.6%).
Of the consultation requests sent in, some were cases that could not
be resolved through labor-management discussions. For these cases, the
Tokyo Labor Bureau deploys the following as a system for alternative
(extrajudicial) dispute settlement to resolve individual civil labor
(1) A system in which labor bureau directors provide advice and
(2) A system where a Dispute Coordinating Committee is responsible
There were 238 cases for which various labor bureau directors had
provided advice and instructions, and 418 cases for which mediation
by the Dispute Coordinating Committee was requested.
-Rosai approved for in-house "bullying" : Employees suffer clinical
depression after being denied work-
According to a Kyodo News Agency report, two male individuals,
aged 35 and 36, working at a health food manufacturing/sales company
based in Yokohama City, applied for the categorization of having
suffered "rosai," or "industrial injury," claiming that they became
clinically depressed after being intentionally given no work to do.
The West Yokohama Labour Standards Inspection Office determined in
August that the cases had indeed corresponded to rosai.
The majority of clinical depression cases which are categorized
as rosai are caused by overwork. The lawyer who assisted these two
employees' application for rosai approval hailed the ruling as a
major breakthrough, since rosai has never been approved because of
"not being given any work to do." The two employees were ordered to
transfer to a subsidiary in April 2001 but refused to comply. The
following month, they were transferred to the Personnel Department
but given absolutely no work to do. Several months later, they were
ordered to sit at a desk that was physically separated from the rest
of the office by a partition and to do nothing all day long.
Both men complained of headache, nausea, and other symptoms, and
were diagnosed with clinical depression. In July 2001, they applied
for rosai categorization, alleging that the depression was caused by
the company's work environment that included in-house bullying.
In January 2002, they demanded compensation for damage from the company
and filed a lawsuit to the Yokohama District Court.
The lawyer who defended the two men said that the case may help put
a halt to corporate harassment that ignores human rights.
-Reform of the personnel evaluation system for local government
employees is making steady progress, a survey by the Japan
Productivity Center for Socio-Economic Development reveals-
A questionnaire survey on the current status of personnel evaluation
systems in municipalities, which the Japan Productivity Center for
Socio-Economic Development conducted in August, revealed that about
70% of prefectural governments and about 80% of city governments
regarded differences in treatment resulting from personnel assessments
as being inevitable. The results of the survey were published in November.
-The Tokyo metropolitan government to reduce retirement allowances
beginning 2004; levels to drop below national standards for the
The Kyodo News Agency reports that the Tokyo metropolitan government,
plagued with financial difficulties, decided in November to reduce
retirement allowances to its staff members starting next January.
They presented this plan to the Federation of Tokyo Metropolitan
Government Workers' Unions. The current level used by the Tokyo
metropolitan government is a maximum of 62.7 months' -worth of salary
paid as retirement allowance for 33 years or more of continuous service.
The plan calls for reducing it to 59.2 months’-worth of salary paid
for 35 years or more of continuous service.
The national government currently pays retirement allowances
orresponding to a maximum of 60.99 months' -worth of salary for 35
years or more of continuous service. With a revision to the law,
however, beginning October 2004, this will be changed to 59.28 months'
-worth of salary. If the plan is implemented exactly as presented,
the Tokyo metropolitan government's maximum rate of retirement allowance
payments will be lower than that of the national government for the
first time. This may influence other municipalities that are suffering
from similar financial problems.
During the peak period of FY1973 to FY1981, the Tokyo metropolitan
government paid a maximum of 90 months' -worth of salary to their
staff members as retirement allowance. This was sharply criticized
as being too high compared with private-sector companies and national
government employees. As a consequence, the metropolitan government
implemented phased reductions and settled, after FY1990, at 62.7
months' -worth of salary. However, with the metropolitan government
suffering serious financial difficulties in the wake of the collapse
of the bubble economy, reduction of retirement allowances has been,
and still remains, a major challenge.
-Starting salary of college graduates increases by 1.5%, topping
200,000 yen for the first time for male employees-
According to the 2003 basic statistical survey on wage structure
announced by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, the average
starting salary for this year's new college graduates (both males
and females) was 198,100 yen. This was up 1.5% over the previous year,
the biggest rate of increase since statistics for the average wages
of men and women were first recorded in 1996.
The survey results summarize the responses sent in by about 13,000
business establishments with 10 or more employees. The starting salary
of college graduates was 201,300 yen for males, up 1.4% over the
previous year and surpassing the 200,000-yen mark for the first time.
Similarly, the starting salary for females was 192,500 yen, up 2.0%.
By type of business, for college graduates, the wholesale and retail
trade sector paid a high starting salary of 204,100 yen on average
for males and females. In contrast, the financial and insurance
sectors only paid 183,400 yen. For graduates of technical colleges,
junior colleges and high schools, the starting salaries were high
in the construction sector and low in the financial and insurance
1US$≒\109 (December 2003)
(Sankei Shimbun, November)
-Part-time workers increase; some even appointed as store managers-
Leading supermarkets are rapidly expanding their employment of part
-time workers. As of the end of August 2003, fourteen leading general
and food supermarkets were employing approximately 220,000 part-time
workers, accounting for 75% of all their employees.
Ito-Yokado Co., Ltd. plans to open around ten new stores each year
after 2004. For next spring, the company intends to hire about the
same number of new college graduates as 2003--approximately 140--
rather than increasing them, and to use part-time workers to make up
for any shortages in staff. Seiyu, Ltd. plans to raise its proportion
of part-time workers to over 80%. Its aims are to reduce personnel
costs as well as to incorporate housewives' viewpoints into store
management. AEON Co., Ltd., will establish a system in February 2004
to enable part-time employees to be promoted to store managers in
districts where they work.
(Nihon Keizai Shimbun, November)
-The November 9 Lower House election: results and the will of the
In the presidential election of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP),
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi was selected for the second time.
He subsequently dissolved the House of Representatives to seek voter
The election was held on November 9 after a two-week campaign.
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