Previoues Entries

Previoues Entries

Plenary Sessions (abstract), JASPS 129th Biannual Conference


Social policy and Labour Market De-regulation: 

Comparing the debate in Japan and the European Union


The Japanese Government intends to deregulate the rules pertaining to the labour market. The country therefore finds itself at a turning point: whether to initiate more deregulation or not. Across the Member States of the European Union, for example, labour market deregulation continues to be advanced under the rubric of ‘Labour market flexibility’. This appears to be different than the situation in Japan.

The debate in the EU has not only been driven by governments it has also included social partners and trade unions that have proposed strategies in opposition to neo-liberalism such as the Supiot report. Such debate has gone on to influence the European Commission’s Employment Strategy as well as the employment Policy and Labour Law of various European countries.

Based on the above, the aim of this session will be to draw comparisons, about labour market rules, between the European case and the latest proposals emanating from the Japanese government.


Chair:Tateshi MORI(Teikyo University)


1.Current situation on EU labour law policy

Keiichiro HAMAGUCHI(The Japan Institute for Labour Policy and Training)


In the EU labour legislation system, corporatism in the form of involvement and initiative of social partners is stipulated at the level of constitutional norm, the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and is regarded as an expression of democracy at the legislation. From the enforcement of the Maastricht Treaty, not so small number of agreements were concluded between intersectoral andsectoral social partners and were enforced in the form of Council Directives. Recently, however, autonomous agreements which are not transformed into directives are preferred bacause of the opinion of  business side and some legal problems are pointed out.

From mid-2000’s, on the other hand, European Commission has clearlyrecommended the Danish flexicurity, which is in retreat bacause of the recent crisis. Moreover, paradoxically, successive judgements of EU Court of Justice in late 2000’s have driven the Nordic industrial relations system, which is the social foundation of the flexicurity,

into the corner with the principle of Internal Market. Monti proposal which would make regulations on the right of strike in the EU level was withdrawn because of criticism from both business and labour.

Meanwhile, transnational company agreements at the EU level have been concluded steadily in the framework of European works councils, and the number of agreement is already over 250. European Commission aims to legislate the transnational company agreement at the EU level and has conducted the setup of experts group and consultation of social partners. However, there are many legal problems which conflict with national industrial relations systems such as division of role between trade unions and employee representatives.


2.Social Regulations on Labor in Germany

Yoko Tanaka(University of Tsukuba)


In Germany, deregulation process on labor relations proceeded from the end of 1990s to 2000s.

Similar to Japan, the number of regular full-time employment decreased.  On the contrary, the so-called irregular employment(atypische Beschäftigung), like fixed-term employees(Befristete Arbeit) and dispatched workers(Leiharbeit) increased rapidly.

Along with the high unemployment rate, low-wage work have been approved and promoted. The new unemployment payment system was established on condition of efforts of getting jobs.

In the same period, the organization rate of labor unions has continuously decreased to 20 % and less. Including the increase of non-works council workplaces and the expanding trend of working hours, the social regulation on labor seems to be gradually retreated.

However, this situation began to change itself, particularly after the Lehmann shock in 2008-2009,.

Germany got out from the very serious economic recession smoothly and rapidly in the EU countries. Its economy is in a favorable condition. In this period, the following new trends are emerging:

First, the number of the irregular employment bottomed out and turned into decrease. So do the unemployment rate payment and its budget amount. Not only that, the decline of the organization rate of the labor unions also bottomed out, and many are now discussing the revitalization of labor unions. The biggest union IG Metall has newly succeeded to organize young blue-collar workers and dispatched workers. On the basis of plenty of the stored money for the strikes, they have struggled not only to get better wages but also to negotiate about the regulation of the arrangements of dispatched workers and the education of young workers. Now the chairman of IG Metall  is referred to as the most influential person to the German economy. Very recently in July 2014, the unified minimal wage system was introduced, which has been discussed for years but not realized.

Here we will examine what is now happening in Germany, and why these changes happened there in detail, and discuss the suggestions for Japan.


3.Employment strategy in Denmark in the globalization

Takashi Suganuma(Rikkyo University)


This study explores recent Danish employment strategies employed by social partners—employers’ associations and labour unions—and the state as a promising case study of a sustainable welfare state in the era of globalization. Even in Denmark, employment patterns are becoming diversified and atypical, and bargaining between social partners is becoming decentralized. Centralized collective bargaining practices, though common custom previously, diminished during the 1990s, and decentralized bargaining has become more prevalent recently. Although the directives of the European Union and high immigration have restricted the traditional independence of social partners from the state in Denmark, the autonomy of social partners is still strong, and around 70% of Danes belong to unions. While evolving throughout the 20th century, the Danish policy of “flexicurity” became popular in the 2000s. Even as the global economic environment changes drastically with globalization, Danes seem to hold fast to this tradition, while offering some innovation; social partners are likely interested in respecting and keeping it.

In this presentation, based on recent research in Denmark, we explore how social partners and the state have dealt with globalization in the field of industrial relations. By our analysis, we set Denmark as a best practice example of the welfare state’s response to globalization, in terms of both national strategy for economic growth and employment reform. However, a distinct theoretical effort to transfer, import, or transplant this model, different from the Danish tradition, must occur in Japan. Though this effort should be unique and localized, we show through the Danish example, sustainable conditions for Japan as a welfare state that also faces globalization.