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Home > Books & Journals > Journal Abstracts Last Updated: 14:23 03/09/2007
Journal Abstracts #95: April 22, 2003

Social Science Japan Journal

Journal Name: Social Science Japan Journal: October 2001, Vol. 4, No. 2

Print ISSN: 1369-1465, Online ISSN: 1468-2680

General Articles:

Atypical Employment: A Source of Flexible Work Opportunities? (pp 161-181)
Sato Hiroki (The Institute of Social Science, University of Tokyo)
In recent years, there has been a steady increase in cases of atypical employment within the Japanese economy, and this phenomenon has generated two directly opposed interpretations. The first views atypical employment positively, as reflecting worker preference, expanding the range of employment opportunities and permitting more flexible ways of working than with typical employment. The second is a negative perspective, arguing that atypical employment opportunities are lacking in stability, and mostly involve unskilled labour, low wages and generally poor working conditions, and that workers take these jobs simply because they cannot get anything better. This paper investigates how these two competing views of atypical employment stand up to the statistical evidence contained in the 'General Survey on Diversified Types of Employment: 1994' carried out by the Policy Research Bureau of the Ministry of Labour (MOL), concluding that, on balance, there is more support for the positive view of atypical employment.

People in Irregular Modes of Employment: Are They Really Not Subject to Discrimination? (pp183-199)
Osawa Mari (The Institute of Social Science, University of Tokyo)
In Japan, while it is considered a matter of course that irregular employees are treated differently from regulars, the question of whether differences in treatment are justified—in terms of ability, contribution to the company or responsibility—is a highly debatable issue. Again, if those differences in treatment are not justifiable in reasonable terms, and are found to constitute discrimination, how is that discrimination to be eradicated? All these matters have long generated intense controversy, both on the shop floor and in academia.This paper attempts to present a fairly accurate picture of the present situation of irregular workers, including the so-called 'full-time part-timers' or 'para-part-timers' (giji-pto), who have the same scheduled working hours as full-time regular employees but are treated as part-timers. It looks at recent government policies and academic theories relating to part-timers, and presents some fundamental challenges to those schools of thought that insist that differences in the treatment of regular and irregular workers do not constitute discrimination.

Changing White-collar Workplaces and Female Temporary Workers in Japan (pp201-218)
Charles Weathers (The Faculty of Economics, Osaka City University)
This paper investigates the effects of change in Japan's employment system on women workers by examining the temporary services industry. It emphasizes the relationship between business practices and workplace conditions. Almost 90% of registered temporary workers in Japan are women. Most are aged between 25 and 35 and are engaged primarily in office work. Research, based largely on interviews with managers and co-ordinators in temporary service firms, indicated that a combination of gender, age and status discrimination closely affects workplace conditions, and that workers face high employment and income insecurity.

'Atypical' and 'Irregular' Labour in Contemporary Japan: The Authors Debate (pp219-223)
Sato Hiroki, Osawa Mari, and Charles Weathers

From Industrial Relations to Investor Relations? Persistence and Change in Japanese Corporate Governance, Employment Practices and Industrial Relations (pp225-241)
Inagami Takeshi (The University of Tokyo Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology)
The international drift towards corporate governance reform changed into a higher gear in the latter half of the 1990s. As the process of corporate governance reform unfolded, it brought into sharp relief contrasts between three different models of corporate governance: the classical model, the enlightened shareholder value model and the pluralist model. The corporate governance reforms envisaged by the Keizai Dykai and Nikkeiren employers' associations can be classified under the pluralist model. However, the findings of an extensive questionnaire survey conducted on executive managers of large firms suggest that the enlightened shareholder value model seems to be supported by one out of every three executive managers in Japan. Spurred by reforms of the Commercial Code and other laws relating to corporate governance, major firms are increasingly looking to establish a system of consolidated management encompassing the entire corporate group, with emphasis on maximizing capital efficiency. Taking place in parallel with this development are changes in employment practices. Although long-term stable employment practices are not likely to be changed drastically in the foreseeable future, it is highly likely that the seniority system will be further eroded, wage differentials will widen, terms of employment and working conditions will become individual-specific, and remuneration systems will be diversified. However, labour unions are failing to find ways of coping with these prospects, and are continuing to lose influence.

The Role of Holding Companies in Pre-War Japanese Economic Development: Rethinking Zaibatsu in Perspectives of Corporate Governance (pp243-268)
Okazaki Tetsuji (The University of Tokyo and a faculty fellow of the Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry)
This paper examines the role of the zaibatsu holding company in corporate governance. Early in the 20th century, Japan's zaibatsu conglomerates introduced organizational innovation to deal with the problems attendant on growth and diversification. By the early 1920s, each zaibatsu had established a holding company, while it separated its various businesses into joint-stock companies. The holding company of the zaibatsu monitored and audited affiliated companies, and controlled key business decisions, besides frequently dispatching directors to the affiliated companies. The efficacy of holding-company governance is tested quantitatively, comparing ROE between zaibatsu affiliated firms and non-zaibatsu firms, using panel data for 135 firms from 1922 to 1936. Controlling for the effects of company scale, industry-specific shocks and macro-shocks, it is found that zaibatsu-affiliated firms clearly outperformed the other companies. This result supports the hypothesis that the zaibatsu holding company successfully played the role of monitoring the affiliated companies. Zaibatsu also disciplined non-affiliated companies in the capital market, frequently executing takeovers, which contributed to restructuring the targeted companies and improving their performance. At a time when holding companies have just been legalized once more in Japan, the history of these pre-war models represents an instructive precedent.

Social Science Japan Journal (2001)
Copyright ©2001 Oxford University Press

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