Professor Yashiro will discuss “Labor Market Reform in Abenomics.” PM Abe recently declared that equal pay for equal work should be the rule to narrow the wage gap between regular and non-regular workers. Preventing persistently long working hours has also been a major policy target for encouraging the labor force participation of women and the elderly. However, these reforms would impact the traditional employment practices of long-term job security and seniority-based wages. The increasing number of non-regular employees who are not granted job security are used as a shock absorber for protecting regular employees in recessions. Also, long working hours reflect an implicit division of labor within a family, which is a source of the “bamboo ceiling” affecting highly-educated women.
Professor Yashiro will review the Japanese employment practices which used to work efficiently in the period of rapid economic growth, but have not performed well in the economic stagnation since the early 1990s and with a rapidly aging of the population. Strong policy leadership is required for reform, as both the company managers and labor unions are victims of their impression that the old employment practices worked well. He will summarize the policy agenda on restructuring of Japan’s labor laws which is now under discussion in government committees.
Dean of Global Business Department and Director of the Business Research Institute at the Showa Women’s University
Naohiro Yashiro is Dean of Global Business Department and Director of the Business Research Institute at the Showa Women’s University. He received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Maryland. He has held positions with the Japanese Government’s Economic Planning Agency and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. He was president of the Japan Center for Economic Research in 2000, and he was a member of the Regulatory Reform Committee (advisory board on economic policy to the prime minister) from 1998 to 2006 and the Council of Economic and Fiscal Policy (directly appointed by Prime Ministers Abe and Fukuda) from 2006 to 2008.
Yashiro’s areas of research include labor economics, social security and Japanese economy. Some of his recent publications include The Economic Effects of Aging in the United States and Japan, co-edited with Michael D. Hurd (University of Chicago, 1997); Health Care Issues in the United States and Japan, co-edited with David A. Wise (University of Chicago, 2006); “Myth about Japanese Employment Practices: An Increasing Insider–Outsider Conflict of Interests” in Contemporary Japan, vol. 23, no. 2 (2011); and “Human Capital in Japan’s Demographic Transition: Implications for Other Asian Countries” in Human Capital Formation and Economic Growth in Asia and the Pacific, edited by Wendy Dobson (Routledge, 2013).