The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan

II. Report on Each Article of the Covenant

Article 6

1. Basic Data Related to Employment and Unemployment

(1)Table 2 shows the change in job openings to job applications ratio (active job openings / active applications) based on age groups in Japan. Table 3 shows the changes in unemployment rate (the unemployed / the labour force) based on sex and age group. According to these tables, the job openings to job applications ratio was less than 1 in 1997; in particular, there was a large gap between age groups as shown in the low ratio for those in the upper age bracket. The unemployment rate was 3.4 % overall and the employment situation was severe. Looking at the unemployment rate based on sex and age group, men and women between the ages of 15-19 (in the lower age bracket) and men between the ages of 60-64 (in the upper age bracket) sustained a high unemployment rate.

Table 2. Changes in the Ratio of Effective Job Offers to Effective Job Applications
  1987 1992 1997
Total 0.80 1.02 0.71
15~19 1.85 3.18 2.64
20~24 0.90 1.00 0.84
25~29 1.07 1.03 0.80
30~34 1.50 1.69 1.22
35~39 1.14 1.92 1.47
40~44 1.15 1.33 1.23
45~49 0.73 1.22 0.63
50~54 0.44 0.90 0.52
55~59 0.18 0.41 0.26
60~64 0.10 0.16 0.07
65 years or over 0.22 0.40 0.26
Note 1:Based on the "Employment Security Statistics" by the Ministry of labour.
Note 2:Figures are as of October of every year.
Note 3:Ratio of effective job offers to effective job applications = the number of effective job seekers/ effective job application.
Note 4:Data are on Regular work force (which includes part-time and excludes temporary and seasonal workers).

Table 3. Changes in the Full Unemployment Rate based on Sex and Age
  Total Males Females
1987 1992 1997 1987 1992 1997 1987 1992 1997
Total 2.8 2.2 3.4 2.8 2.1 3.4 2.8 2.2 3.4
15~19 7.9 6.7 9.0 9.3 7.3 10.3 7.7 6.0 7.6
20~24 4.5 3.9 6.2 4.3 3.9 6.2 4.3 3.7 6.1
25~29 3.4 2.9 4.9 2.6 2.3 3.9 4.6 3.5 6.3
30~34 2.4 2.0 3.3 2.2 1.6 2.7 2.9 3.0 4.4
35~39 2.2 1.6 2.6 2.0 1.5 2.1 2.4 1.9 2.9
40~44 1.9 1.4 2.1 1.8 1.1 2.2 2.3 1.8 2.1
45~49 1.8 1.3 2.0 1.7 1.2 2.1 2.0 1.6 2.0
50~54 2.0 1.2 2.1 2.3 1.2 2.1 2.0 1.4 2.0
55~59 3.3 1.7 2.5 4.0 1.9 2.6 2.1 1.3 2.0
60~64 5.3 3.7 6.2 7.6 5.1 8.3 2.4 1.4 2.5
65 years and over 1.3 1.0 1.5 1.6 1.6 2.0 0.8 0.6 0.6
Note 1:Based on the "Labor Force Survey" by the Management and Coordination Agency's Statistics Bureau.
Note 2:Unemployment rate = fully unemployed persons/labor force (%)

Table 4. Changes in the Ratio of Effective Job Offers to Effective Job Applications and the Full Unemployment Rate based on Region
  Ratio of effective labor demand
to effective supply
Full Unemployment rate
1987 1992 1997 1987 1992 1997
Total 70.0% 108.0% 72.0% 2.8% 2.2% 3.4%
Hokkaido 44.0% 66.0% 54.0% 4.2% 2.9% 3.8%
Tohoku 56.0% 102.0% 80.0% 2.9% 1.9% 2.9%
South Kanto 84.0% 96.0% 58.0% 2.7% 2.4% 3.8%
North Kanto,Koshin 117.0% 174.0% 102.0% 1.8% 1.5% 2.5%
Hokuriku 87.0% 163.0% 108.0% 2.4% 1.6% 2.6%
Tokai 112.0% 169.0% 96.0% 2.0% 1.6% 2.7%
Kinki 55.0% 85.0% 60.0% 3.3% 2.5% 4.0%
Chugoku 73.0% 152.0% 102.0% 2.8% 1.7% 2.7%
Shikoku 69.0% 120.0% 88.0% 3.3% 2.3% 3.2%
Kyushu 40.0% 82.0% 57.0% 4.0% 2.5% 3.8%
Note 1:Based on the "Employment Security Statistics" by the Ministry of Labour and the "Labour Force Survey" by the Management and Coordination Agency's Statistics Bureau.
Note 2: Hokkaido - Hokkaido prefecture
Tohoku - Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi, Akita, Yamagata, and Fukushima prefectures
South Kanto - Saitama, Chiba, Tokyo, and Kanagawa prefectures
North Kanto, Koshin - Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Yamanashi, and Nagano prefectures
Hokuriku - Nigata, Toyama, Ishikawa, and Fukui prefectures
Tokai - Gifu, Shizuoka, Aichi, and Mie prefectures
Kinki - Shiga, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo, Nara, and Wakayama prefectures
Chugoku - Tottori, Shimane, Okayama, Hiroshima, and Yamaguchi prefectures
Shikoku - Tokushima, Kagawa, Ehime, and Kochi prefectures
Kyushu - Fukuoka, Saga, Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Oita, Miyazaki, Kagoshima, and Okinawa prefectures

(2)Table 4 shows the changes in job openings to job applications ratio and the unemployment rate based on region. According to the table, urban areas such as South Kanto (Tokyo area) and Kinki (Osaka area) as well as Hokkaido (in the north of Japan) and Kyushu (in the south of Japan) have high unemployment ratios and their job openings to job applications ratios are low.
(3)With regard to persons with disabilities, it is especially important to provide detailed and considerable vocational guidance and vocational placement according to one's capability and aptitude, and thus, a job-seeking registration system has been established in the Public Employment Security Offices. Table 5 shows the change in the registration system. The number of persons with disabilities registered as job seekers is increasing and the number of employed is increasing accordingly. However, the growth in the number of active applicants is even higher and employment opportunities are not increasing sufficiently.

Table 5. Employment Conditions of Disabled Persons Registered at Public Employment Security Offices
  Total number of registrants Effective job seekers Persons employed Pending
End of March 1986 342,179 47,824 277,570 16,785
End of March 1991 341,876 54,276 272,101 15,499
End of March 1996 414,735 88,030 305,239 21,466
End of March 1997 426,109 95,515 307,643 22,951
Note:"Pending" refers to those not elligible for employment introduction because of illness, etc.

2. Policies and Measures to Guarantee the Right to Work

(1)Guarantee of the right to work
Article 27, Paragraph 1 of the Constitution stipulates that "All people shall have the right and the obligation to work" and recognizes the right to work for all people. In order to guarantee the right to work, the Government has the obligation to take various measures to secure employment for workers. The guarantee of the right to work is a major issue in the various laws and regulations concerning employment security administration (refer to the first report for details).
(2)Freedom in the choice of employment
Article 22, Paragraph 1 of the Constitution stipulates that "Every person shall have freedom to choose his/her occupation to the extent that it does not interfere with the public welfare." To guarantee this right substantially, Public Employment Security Offices and other employment security agencies have been established to carry out such tasks as active exploration of job openings, provision of information and placement services for job seekers. When the national government introduces employment opportunities (employment security agencies provide guidance and placement services), the will of the individual shall be respected, and forced labour displacement through government authority is not to be permitted.
(3)Employment measures in Japan
In this way, the guarantee of the right to work and freedom in the choice of occupation is basic policy in the Japanese employment security-related laws such as the Employment Security Law and the Employment Insurance Law. Based on these concepts and on the goal of "achieving full employment," which is the basic policy of a modern welfare government, the comprehensive development of employment-related measures has been implemented.
This means that various laws and regulations on employment, for example, the Employment Measures Law as a major one, and various measures based on these laws and regulations, have been systematized to achieve the basic goal of embodying the ideas of the Constitution and achieving full employment, although the target and means of each law and measure are different. (Refer to Article 1, Paragraph 1 of the Employment Measures Law.) The measures can be systematized as follows: the first set of measures targets prevention of unemployment through such means as employment security activities based on the Employment Measures Law; the second set targets provision of life security to cover the loss of wages for the unemployed through such means as employment insurance; and the third set targets the promotion of the re-entry of the unemployed into the labour force through such means as employment placement and vocational training.
To achieve and maintain full employment, which is the goal of the employment policy, appropriate and substantial employment measures should be implemented based on the conditions of the economy and employment; furthermore, efforts are necessary to cope with changes in the labour force supply and demand structure in the mid- to long-term. From these points of view, Japan has adopted the Basic Employment Measures Plan since 1967 (the 8th plan was adopted in 1995), and an annual employment plan is drawn up every year to serve as a guideline to implement necessary measures comprehensively and systematically in order to accurately cope with immediate unemployment conditions. Actual employment measures are implemented based on these plans.

3. Policies to Improve Labour Productivity

Although improvements in labour productivity are basically the result of the self-help efforts of labour and management, the Government promotes measures for human resources development and investment for labour saving as policies to contribute to the improvement of labour productivity. It also encourages reduction of working hours and provides an opportunity to improve productivity indirectly. Additionally, measures to shift the industrial structure (from an industrial employment structure to a high-productivity sector) and promotion of research and development also contribute to the improvement of labour productivity.

(1)Measures for human resources development
To improve the quality of the labour force, the Government provides assistance to promote human resources development in private companies, creates human resources development systems through implementing measures such as public vocational training and trade skill tests, and trains ME (micro-electronics) and information processing personnel to cope with changes in technology and the progress of the information society.
(2)Promotion of labour saving investment
The Government provides assistance for the promotion of labour saving investment, which improve labour productivity. To promote investment in private equipment, while coping with a labour shortage, the Government has a loan system for business operators, mainly for small- and medium-sized companies, who promote facility investment in order to save labour.
(3)Encouragement of the reduction of working hours
The reduction of working hours has become a national task, toward which the entire nation should make efforts so that people can lead more fulfilling lives. The Government actively encourages reduction of working hours by emphasizing the full use of annual paid holidays and reduction of overtime working hours, with the establishment of the 40-hour work week as the primary issue.

4. Vocational Training Program

The basic framework of Japan's vocational training program is provided by the Human Resources Development Promotion Law (This law is the Vocational Training Law mentioned in the initial report, as revised when the Law to Revise a Portion of the Vocational Training Law was promulgated in June 1985) and the Basic Human Resources Development Plan, which is formulated every five years based on the above Law. The national government and prefectures promote educational training at private companies, and have established public human resources development facilities for workers who lack sufficient opportunity for educational training within their respective companies.

(1)Promotion of educational training at private companies
In regard to the promotion of educational training at private companies, the Government encourages companies to designate a human resources development promoter to create in-house human resources development plans and to smoothly implement these plans. Moreover, the Government takes measures to subsidize the necessary cost of implementing educational training based on these plans.
(2)Public human resources facility
Vocational training at public human resources facilities is divided into ordinary vocational training with short-term courses and ordinary courses, and high technology vocational training with short-term specialist courses and specialist courses, in accordance with the level of knowledge and skill and training period. The national government and prefectures implement measures according to the Basic Human Resources Development Plan and the Prefectural Human Resources Development Plans based on the Basic Plan. The Government has also established operation councils which consist of government agency representatives and labour and management in each training facility, and made efforts to facilitate the effective operation of these facilities by providing training that meets the needs of workers and industry.

5. Ensuring Equal Employment Opportunities

Article 3 of the Employment Security Law stipulates that no one shall be discriminated against in employment placement and vocational guidance, or the like, by reason of race, nationality, creed, sex, social status, or family origin, etc. The Government implements the following measures to guarantee equal employment opportunities.

(1)Women workers
(a)Revision of the Equal Employment Opportunity Law and the Labour Standards Law, etc.
To promote equal employment opportunities and labour conditions for men and women, the Government duly enacted the Law Respecting the Improvement of the Welfare of Women Workers, including the Guarantee of Equal Opportunity and Treatment between Men and Women in Employment (Equal Employment Opportunity Law) in April 1986. Furthermore, the Government revised the regulations on protection of women in the Labour Standards Law and Mariners Law and reduced restrictions on women in regard to overtime work, working on holidays, late night work, and dangerous and hazardous work.
To firmly guarantee equal opportunity and treatment between men and women in employment, the Government revised related laws including the Equal Employment Opportunity Law in 1997. The Revised Equal Employment Opportunity Law mainly includes the following revisions and it will be enforced in April 1999.
(i)It prohibits discrimination against women in recruitment, hiring, assignment and promotion, while employers used to have obligation to make efforts toward elimination of such discrimination. It also removes the limitation on the sphere within which discrimination on vocational training is prohibited.
(ii)It is newly recognized as "Discrimination against Women" and in principle prohibited to recruit and assign only women in specific field of occupation (which used to be admitted), in the light of the harmful effects such as fixation of field of women occupation and separation of occupational field between men and women.
(iii)It is newly provided that the Government may give advice and other support to employers who take or try to take "positive action" to remove actual gaps between men and women workers. (Measures taken only for women as "positive action" based on this provision are not considered to be "Discrimination against Women" mentioned (ii) above.
(iv)It establishes a system to officially announce non-compliance of employers with recommendations concerning correction of infringement of the provision concerning prohibition of discrimination against woman.
(v)As for Mediation System, it makes it possible to initiate mediation upon request of one of the parties.
(vi)It is newly provided that employers must take into consideration whatever is necessary in the way of employment management to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.
(vii)It places employers under an obligation to take measures for health management of women workers in pregnancy and after childbirth, which entered into force on April 1, 1998, while employers used to have obligation to make effort to take such measures. (Refer to the part under Article 10 section 2 Protection of Mothers in this Report.)
Furthermore, by the partial revision of the Labour Standards Law conducted simultaneously, restrictions of over-time work, holiday work, and late night work (from 10:00 pm to 5:00 am) by women workers over the age of 18 are removed. The revision will be enforced in April 1999 together with the Equal Employment Opportunity Law.
(b)Enforcement of the Equal Employment Opportunity Law
Regarding personnel management problems concerning women in such areas as recruitment, hiring, assignment and promotion, the Prefectural Women's and Young Workers' Offices provide education, consultation, guidance on the improvement of personnel management system, and assistance in settlement of disputes, in order to make employers comply with the Equal Employment Opportunity Law, to realize the personnel management in compliance with the Law, and to disseminate the revised Equal Employment Opportunity Law. Specifically, the Prefectural Women's and Young Worker's Offices receive more than 20,000 consultation requests per year from women workers and employers, and provide strict correctional guidance for those employers whose conduct violates the Equal Employment Opportunity Law. Furthermore, the Offices periodically collect report from companies about women's personnel management and demand strict compliance and make other efforts to provide guidance actively if problems are perceived. Finally, the Offices encourage employers to strive voluntarily in promoting improvement of their employment administration in accordance with the goals of the Equal Employment Opportunity Law.
With regard to the Labour Minister's guidelines promulgated under the Equal Employment Opportunity Law that stipulate the measures to be taken by employers concerning recruitment, hiring, assignment, and promotion, the following exceptions are admitted:
(i)Jobs in the fields of art and entertainment (Actors, Male Singers) which it is necessary to be engaged by men because of such requirements as achieving reality in expression;
(ii)Jobs such as guards and security officers for which it is necessary to be engaged by men because of crime prevention requirements;
(iii)In addition to those jobs set forth in items (i) and (ii) above, jobs for which, due to the nature of the work, it is recognized that there is the same level of necessity to be engaged by men as for the jobs set forth in the above two items (because of needs of religion, public morals, engagement in sports, etc.).
(iv)Situations in which it is recognized that, in order to carry out the normal operation of the job, it would be difficult to provide women with opportunities or treatment equal to men because of the restrictions or prohibitions (on late night work, over-time work and holiday work) of the Labour Standards Law. (These restrictions will be removed on March 31, 1999.)
(v)In cases where overseas service is required for which, due to differences in customs, practices or the like, it would be difficult for women to utilize their abilities, or because of other special circumstances.
The new guidelines will be drawn up based on the revised Equal Employment Opportunity Law and will enter into force on April 1, 1999.
(2)The Ainu people, Dowa people, and Korean residents in Japan
There is no discrimination against the Ainu people, Dowa people, and Korean residents in Japan with regard to employment guidance and employment placement by public agencies. However, considering their historical background, special consideration is necessary so that they can lead more stable lives. To further ensure their substantial human rights, the Government provides instruction and education for employers in order to ensure a proper understanding and recognition for these individuals and to encourage fair employment practices based on the aptitudes and skills of the job seekers. In this way, the Government endeavors to ensure their employment opportunities.
Furthermore, in the event of an incident where equal opportunity in the workplace is not ensured by reason of race, nationality, or social status, the human rights organs will provide education on an individual basis to the people concerned to ensure an understanding of the goal of Article 3 of the Employment Security Law and other relevant regulations (refer to the first paragraph of this section).
(3)Foreigners entering Japan
The Government considers that the employment of foreign people, who come to Japan to engage in jobs requiring expert technology, technological skills or knowledge, or jobs requiring specific ways of thought or sense based on foreign culture, whose job cannot be performed by a Japanese, is not likely to cause adverse effects on the domestic labour market or cause other social problems, and will contribute to promoting and developing the Japanese economy and society, as long as these workers are under appropriate immigration control.
From this point of view, the Government accepts as many foreign workers as possible who are engaged in jobs requiring expert technology. For foreigners who are authorized to enter and reside in Japan, the public employment security offices throughout the nation make efforts to ensure their employment opportunities by providing them with the same employment services as Japanese nationals in consistent with the activities which are permitted under their "status of residence."

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