JILAF invited three people from two organizations in two developed countries, one from Finland and two from the Netherlands, to visit Japan from February 16 to 22.
One of the main purposes of the invitation program this time was to hold an international symposium, the theme of which was “Future Lifestyle Models, Including Ways of Working, and Supportive Safety Nets.” Mr. Itaru Nishimura, a researcher at the Japan Institute for Labour Policy and Training (JILPT), gave the keynote speech, in which he outlined the status of “limited regular employees” (who enjoy the benefits of regular employees but are “limited” in terms of duties and place of work) and suggested the merits and demerits of introducing this system
After that, there were reports from Japan, Finland, and the Netherlands. First of all, Mr. Shigeru Kojima, senior researcher at the Research Institute for Advancement of Living Standards (RIALS) of RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation), gave a report on problems of the Japanese social security system. Mr. Kojima emphasized the need to quickly establish a second safety net in Japan to deal with such issues as the increase of nonregular employment and the consequent widening of disparities and poverty.
Next, Mr. Ilkka Kaukoranta of the Central Organization of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK) pointed out that while the main objectives of the safety net and social security system are the elimination of poverty and guarantee of the right to pursue happiness, they are also extremely effective in promoting the country’s economic growth. For example, he said, improving childcare support leads to the continuation and promotion of employment and vitalizes society.
Next, Ms. Joosje de Lang of the Dutch Trade Union Federation (FNV) delivered a report mainly on part-time work in her country (the so-called Dutch model). Part-time work in the Netherlands, she explained, is no different at all from full-time work in terms of working conditions, legal rights, and social security and is extremely suited to a lifestyle balancing work and family. Moreover, she said, part-time work brings enormous merits to Dutch society in the form of improved productivity and so on.
Finally, there was a panel discussion with RIALS Senior Researcher Kojima as coordinator and the three invited participants as panelists, joined by Mr. Kazuo Takamatsu, director of RENGO’s Employment Legislation Division. Fifty people attended the symposium, including union officials and researchers.
As well as the symposium, the invited participants visited RENGO, where they engaged in discussions of social security policy and other topics, and, with the cooperation of UA Zensen (Japanese Federation of Textile, Chemical, Food, Commercial, Service, and General Workers’ Unions), the Shonan Research Center of Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., where they inspected the facilities and held discussions with the Takeda Pharmaceutical Workers’ Union. Through these activities, the invited participants were able to deepen their understanding of the labour situation in Japan and the various issues currently facing Japan.