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Japan’s Labor Market in Flux

Diversification of Japan’s Labor Market: Risks and Opportunities in a Multidisciplinary and Comparative


Professor Dr. Gabriele Vogt (LMU Munich, Japan-Zentrum)

Since the 1990s, Japan’s labor market has seen multiple changes. Deregulatory measures have
contributed to the rise of non-regular employment in Japan to almost 40 percent of the workforce and
have left many in precarious working conditions. Low job security, low wages, and only limited access
to corporate social welfare are some of the main characteristics of non-regular employment in contrast
to the working conditions of regular employees. Moreover, a severe labor shortage of skilled personnel,
e.g. in care work, is increasing because of the physical strains of work, long working hours, and low
prestige, all of which lower the attractiveness of these professions. Among the Japanese government’s
strategies to manage these developments is to target women, the elderly, migrants, and even robots
as future workers. Even though the administration of Prime Minister Abe has been promoting the
employment of women to counteract the dramatic shortage of workers in Japan, women often still
face obstacles in the workplace due to family obligations or discrimination because of their gender.
Another way the government has tried to combat the rising labor shortage is the introduction of new
visa categories for foreign workers that now includes blue collar work as well. Our panelists will discuss
and evaluate the various policies the Japanese government has implemented over the past years and
the implications for the future of the labor market in Japan.


Professor Glenda Roberts, PhD is a socio-cultural anthropologist specializing in gender, work, family,
and migration. She is a Professor in the Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies (GSAPS) at Waseda
University in Tokyo. Her research focuses, among others, on strategies of Japanese women balancing
careers, marriage and childbearing.

Professor Gracia-Liu Farrer, PhD is a professor of sociology in the Graduate School of Asia-Pacific
Studies (GSAPS) at Waseda University working on international migration, identity and citizenship, and
race and ethnicity. Her latest research deals with immigrants’ economic, social, and political practices
in Japan.

Professor Hirohisa Takenoshita is a professor in the Department of Political Science at Keio University.
His recent research revolves around labor market institutions and social stratification as well as
inequality among immigrants in Japan with a focus on labor market participation.