JAPAN - Labor Shortage Forces Change

Arno Froese

When she worked in sales for a Japanese bank, Chihiro Narazaki was passed over for the best assignments in favor of older colleagues. Her input was discouraged and she often stayed late just to do routine paperwork.

The 29-year-old knew where this was heading: her father, who works in pharmaceutical sales, had a similar lifestyle, which she describes as “stuck in time.”

Determined to avoid that fate, she found a new job, selling software for Cybozu Inc. She says she now sets her own goals, her voice is heard, and her presence is not mandatory.

“Sometimes I work from home, go visit a client, and then go back home to do more work,” said Narazaki, who has taken up yoga. “We have a lot of freedom.”

“Companies had created a system that rates you on hours worked, and that’s how you got ahead in the corporate world,” said Yoshie Komuro, head of Work-Life Balance Inc, which advises the government on labor reforms. “Now it’s becoming a question of how you can produce results with limited resources in Japan.”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has gradually reformed labor laws since taking office in 2012, making it easier for mothers to take part-time jobs, cutting hours and reducing the pay gap between full-time and contract workers.

Since then, average work hours have fallen at the fastest rate in the Group of Seven industrialized economies, beating the average among members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

During Japan’s late 1980s-early 90s economic boom, when the West faced frequent worker unrest, Japanese companies found an edge in technology, as well as the devotion and discipline of their skilled workers.

During the boom years, images of exhausted “salary men” leaving tall office buildings late at night were a source of national pride, depicting strong work ethics and grit.

But after two decades of stagnant economic growth, and numerous reports of suicides and heart attacks at work, they became a symbol of an obsolete seniority system that is holding Japan back.

-www.reuters.com, 7 May 2019

Arno's commentary

Japan is a super-successful nation with one drawback: not enough babies are born. Thus, Japan is forced to import foreign workers, similar to Germany and other European nations.

When it comes health, Japan is second to none. The World Health Organization rankings for 2015 list life expectancy for Japanese at 83.7 years; Switzerland is 83.4, and, amazingly, Israel is 82.5 (USA 79.3).

Working away from the office at home is an increasing tendency throughout the industrial world. Quite obviously, this leads to more and more dependence on technology, particularly communication. With this development, the boss loses some authority as the communications equipment becomes the primary means of supervision.

This is not surprising, particularly for a world technology leader like Japan, where the population is religiously bound to Shintoism and Buddhism, with only 1.5% Christian. Japanese success—as well as their apparent problems—will be experienced by the rest of the world. Thus, another step closer to global unity and, finally, world government.

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

Read more from this author

ContactAbout UsPrivacy and Safety