The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan

Article 7

1. Wages

(1)Methods to determine wages
Article 28 of the Constitution guarantee the right of workers to organize and to bargain and act collectively. In principle, wages are determined through discussions between labour and management or through collective negotiations. Based on provisions of the Constitution, the Trade Union Law, and the Public Corporation and National Enterprise Labour Relations Law authorize the right to conclude labour agreements with regard to working conditions, including wages.
The basic labour rights of national public employees, however, are limited because of the characteristics of their positions and their public duties; regular service, except for government enterprise employees, may not conclude labour agreements concerning employment conditions including salaries. Instead, their salaries which are stipulated by law, are revised in accordance with general social conditions, based on the recommendations of the National Personnel Authority to the Diet and Cabinet, a third party organ independent of the Diet and the Cabinet, by revising the law (Article 28 of the National Public Service Law and Article 2 of the Law Concerning Remuneration of Employees in the Regular Service). For example, in April 1997, the average monthly salary for national public service employees in charge of administrative service (average age: 39.8 years) was 356,424 yen, while the average monthly salary for private enterprise employees, whose duties are similar to those of the above employees, was 360,056 yen. To eliminate such disparity in salary between public and private employees, the National Personnel Authority recommended a revision in public service employee salaries.Upon receipt of this recommendation, the Cabinet, considering the management of national public service employees in light of overall national policy, with its basic position of respecting the National Personnel Authority recommendation system that compensates for the restriction of basic labour rights restrictions on public service employees, decided to revise the law in accordance with the National Personnel Authority's recommendations for regular service, excluding designated service. The Cabinet duly submitted the "Bill to Revise the Law Concerning Remuneration of Employees in the Regular Service and the Law Concerning the Special Measures for the Recruitment, Remuneration and Working Hours of Researchers with Fixed Term in the Regular Service" to the Diet. The bill passed without amendments and the salaries of national regular public service were thus revised retroactively to April 1997. The salaries of designated service were revised in April 1998.
Salaries of local public employees other than employees of local public enterprises and those employed for simple labour are also determined in a similar manner as stated above (Article 24 and 26 of the Local Public Service Law).
(2)Minimum Wage
(a)Minimum wages are guaranteed under the Minimum Wage Law to secure the livelihood of workers and to improve the quality of the labour force. When the Minister of Labour or the Directors of Prefectural Labour Standards Offices believe that a minimum wage is necessary to improve the labour conditions of low wage workers with regard to a certain industry, occupation, or region, he/she requests that the national or prefectural Minimum Wage Council, consisting of the same number of committee members representing public interest, labour and management, do a survey and discuss the matter. He/She then determines the minimum wage based on the opinions (report) of the Councils. There are two kinds of minimum wages based on surveys and discussions of the Minimum Wage Council, namely, the regional minimum wage (the minimum wage applied to all workers in a prefecture regardless of industry or type of work) and the industrial minimum wage (the minimum wage applied to workers in a particular industry).There is also a regional minimum wage based on labour agreements.
Table 6 shows the minimum wages according to the established system, as of March 31, 1997.

Table 6. Number of Established Minimum Wages Systems and Number of Workers to Whom Minimum Wages are Applied
As of March 31, 1997
Established System Number decided Number of workers to whom the minimum wage is applied
Minimum Wage based on survey and deliberations 301 47,863,100
Regional minimum wage 47 43,088,600
Industrial minimum wage 254 4,774,500
Minimum wage decided by the Ministry of Labour 3 4,300
Minimum wage decided by the director of the Labour Standards Office 251 4,770,200
Regional minimum wage based on labor agreements 2 600
Total 303 47,863,700
Note:Workers to whom two or more minimum wages apply, are counted as recipients of the higher minimum wage.

(b)Excluding regular public service employees and others as stipulated by law, the minimum wage is applied to all workers including full-time, temporary, and part-time employees. However, workers engaged in simple labour may be exempted from minimum wage systems, under the authorization of the Director of the Prefectural Labour Standards Office.
(c)The level of minimum wages is determined by the Minister of Labour or the Directors of the Prefectural Labour Standards Office, based on the results of surveys and discussions by the Minimum Wage Council. The Minimum Wage Law provides that the minimum wage shall be determined in consideration of three factors: the cost of living for workers, the wage for similar labour, and the employers' capacity to pay. Discussions of the Minimum Wage Council are based on the survey results of actual workers' wages. Members of the Minimum Wage Council visit offices to observe working conditions, study wages, and hear opinions from the workers and employers concerned. They thus determine the minimum wage by paying attention to such factors as the cost of living in the region, recent graduates' starting salaries, minimum wages agreed between labour and management, worker distribution according to salary brackets, and the degree of influence expected from the number of workers whose salary is lower than the envisaged minimum wage.
Table 7 shows the average monthly salary of full-time workers in Japan. Table 8shows the national average of daily minimum wage by region and industry.

Table 7. Total Average Monthly Salary of One Full-time Worker
  Total salary Fixed earnings Overtime salary Special salary
1985 317,091 214,255 22,332 80,504
1990 370,169 244,373 27,123 98,673
1995 408,864 284,040 23,983 100,841
1996 413,096 286,853 25,181 161,062
Note 1:Based on the "Monthly Labour Survey" taken by the Ministry of Labour.
Note 2:This survey covers establishments with 30 or more workers.

Table 8. National Average of the Daily Minimum Wage based on Region and Industry
  Regional minimum wage Industrial minimum wage
1985 3,478 3,834
1990 4,117 4,377
1995 4,866 5,521
1996 4,969 5,650
Note:These figures are weighted average amounts based on the number of workers to whom these values are applied.

(d)When the minimum wage is determined, the wage is announced through publication in the official gazette. The Labour Standards Inspection bodies distribute leaflets to employees and employers and hold explanatory meetings to make the minimum wage known to the public. They also conduct inspections, offer guidance nationwide, and give warning to organizations violating minimum wage standards to correct such practices.
(e)Employers have the obligation to pay the minimum wage or a higher wage, and those who violate it will be punished under the Minimum Wage Law. Even if labour and management were to agree on a wage lower than the minimum wage, it would be legally invalid and recognized as the minimum wage (Article 5 of the Minimum Wage Law).
With regard to violations of the Minimum Wage Law, a Labour Standards Inspection Administration Inspector is responsible for conducting investigations of judicial police officer which is stipulated in the Code of Criminal Procedure.
(f)Japan ratified the ILO Convention No. 26 (Convention concerning the Creation of Minimum Wage-Fixing Machinery) and Convention No. 131 (Convention concerning Minimum Wage-Fixing, with Special Reference to Developing Countries) in April 1971,and has established a legislative system that conforms to these Conventions. Japan submitted its latest reports on the implementation of Convention No.26 to the ILO and Convention No.131 to the ILO in 1976 and in 1997 respectively.

2. Equal Treatment

Article 3 of the Labour Standards Law stipulates that "An employer shall not discriminate against or in favour of any workers with respect to wages, working hours, or other working conditions by reason of the nationality, creed, or social status of any worker." Japan also ratified the ILO Convention No. 100 (Convention concerning Equal Remuneration for Men and Women Workers for Work of Equal Value) in July 1967, and has established a legislative system in accordance with the Convention.

(1)Treatment of women workers
Ten years have passed since the enforcement of the Equal Employment Opportunity Law. The law's goals are steadily being incorporated through the continuous efforts of enterprises to improve employment administration. According to the "Survey on Women-worker's Female Employment Management" conducted in 1995, among all companies, 14.3% employ female workers holding positions equivalent to Manager; 30.6% employ those female workers in positions equivalent to Section Chief; and, 72.1% employ those equivalent to Assistant Manager. Furthermore, retirement systems that discriminate against women, and marriage, pregnancy and birth retirement systems have also been eliminated. With regard to national public employees, eligibility restrictions for women applying for the recruitment examinations for the national public service were abolished through a revision of the rules of the National Personnel Authority. Thus, there is no restriction or discrimination against women in the hiring of regular public service workers.
(2)Article 7 of the Trade Union Law stipulates that any act of an employer treating a worker in a disadvantageous manner by reason of his/her being a member of a trade union, having tried to join or to organize a trade union, or having performed the fair acts of a trade union, is prohibited as an unfair labour practice.
(3)For a comparison of wages for similar work between the public and private sectors, refer to 1. (1) above.

3. Safe and Healthy Working Conditions

(1)Basic laws and ordinances
(a)To ensure the safety and health of workers in the workplace, Japan has enacted and enforces various laws and regulations, including the "Industrial Safety and Health Law," "the Pneumoconiosis Law," the "Ordinance on Industrial Safety and Health," the "Ordinance on the Safety of Boilers and Pressure Vessels," and, the "Ordinance on the Prevention of Organic Solvent Poisoning."
(b)Although the Industrial Safety and Health Law is not applicable to ship crews under the Mariners Law or mine workers under Article 2, Paragraph 2 of the Mine Safety Law, respectively, their safety and health are ensured by the Seamen's Law, the Mine Safety Law, and other relevant ordinances.
(c)Japan ratified the ILO Convention No. 81 (Convention concerning Labour Inspection in Industry and Commerce) in October 1953, and has implemented labour standards administrative activities based on this Convention. As for the implementation of this Convention, refer to the Japanese report submitted to the ILO in 1997.
(2)Industrial injures
(a)The number of casualties due to industrial injuries (accidents while on duty or while commuting and occupational illnesses) has continued to decrease after reaching a peak in 1961. (However, it temporarily increased between 1975 and 1977.) The same trend has been observed since the first report (refer to Table 9).

Table 9. Labour Accident Trends (All Industries)
  Number of deaths and injuries Number of deaths Frequency rate Severity rate
1983 930,000 2,588 3.03 0.30
1984 921,000 2,635 2.77 0.34
1985 902,000 2,572 2.52 0.29
1986 859,000 2,318 2.37 0.22
1987 847,000 2,342 2.22 0.20
1988 832,000 2,549 2.09 0.20
1989 818,000 2,419 2.05 0.20
1990 798,000 2,550 1.95 0.18
1991 765,000 2,489 1.92 0.17
1992 726,000 2,354 2.13 0.15
1993 696,000 2,245 2.07 0.18
1994 675,000 2,301 2.00 0.20
1995 645,000 2,348 1.88 0.19
1996 621,000 2,363 1.89 0.16
Note 1:The number of casualties is estimated based on the new beneficiaries of the Workmen's Compensation Insurance.
Note 2:The frequency rate refers to the number of deaths and injuries per one million labor hours.
Note 3:The severity rate refers to the number of work days lost per 1 ,000 labor hours.

(b)Many industrial injuries occur at small and medium-sized companies. In order to cope with situations in which industrial injuries still often occur at such places as factories and construction sites, the Government amended the Industrial Safety and Health Law in 1992, with the aim to develop a safety and health management system at small and medium-sized construction sites, and to enhance security measures at the construction planning stage.

(3)Occupational diseases
The number of occupational diseases was between 15,000 to 18,000 per year during the first half of the 1980s, but decreased to 9,250 in 1996.
Occupational illnesses occurring in 1996 can be broken down as follows: 70% as a result of injury, and approximately 16% as a result of pneumoconiosis and related complications.
The percentage of workers required to undergo special health examinations for hazardous work, based on the Industrial Safety and Health Law, was 3.1% in 1996.

4. Rest, Leisure, Limitation of Working Hours, and Paid Holidays

The Labour Standards Law and other laws stipulate the minimum standards for rest, holidays, limitation of working hours, and paid holidays as a part of fair and sound working conditions. These standards are enforced by the Labour Standards Inspection bodies.

The Labour Standards Law stipulates that an employer shall give his/her worker at least one rest day per week, or four rest days or more per a period of four weeks (Article 35).
(2)Normal and overtime work hours
The normal work hours per week were gradually reduced from 48 hours per week to 40 hours per week through the revisions of the Labour Standards Law in 1987 and 1993. The Law also stipulates that an employer may extend working hours in the case of an emergency (Article 33), or when a written agreement between the labour and management on overtime work has been duly submitted to the local administrative office (Article 36).
(3)Annual paid holidays
Japan amended Article 39 of the Labour Standards Law in 1993. As a result, the period that a new employee must work before receiving annual paid holidays, was reduced from one year to six months.
(4)Remuneration for public holidays
As has been stated in the initial report, Japan reserves the right not to be bound to provide remuneration for public holidays. A few companies have introduced a system to pay salaries for national holidays, but there is no social consensus for remuneration for national holidays. Therefore, it is appropriate to leave this matter to agreements between labour and management.
(5)Restrictions on workers engaged in the agricultural and fishery industries
The Labour Standards Law stipulates that regulations on working hours, rest, and paid holidays do not apply to workers engaged in work or services to which fixed work hours and the weekly holiday system are not suitable (agricultural or marine industries) (Article 41).
(6)Restrictions on mariners
The working hours for mariners are regulated by the "Mariners Law," which differs from those of regular workers because of the special characteristics of their work (Article 116).

5. Factors and Obstacles Influencing the Degree of Realization of Rights in regard to the Customs and Laws in Japan Concerning the Reasonable Restrictions on Rest, Leisure, and Working Hours, as well as Periodical Paid Holidays, and Remuneration for Public Holidays

(1)Generally, the reduction of working hours is difficult for small and medium-sized companies compared with larger companies because of their weak management base and the difficulties in securing substitute personnel.
Annual paid holidays are not likely to be taken fully since workers tend to save their holidays in case of emergency such as sickness.
(2)The regulations on working hours, rest, and holidays stipulated in the Labour Standards Law are not applicable to managerial staff, and no measure has been taken in this regard.

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