JILAF invited a team from China and the Republic of Korea to visit Japan from November 30 to December 13, 2014. There were five participants from each country (including four women). With the exception of one person, they were all visiting Japan for the first time.
Social and labour conditions in Japan are quite well known in both China and Korea, so the participants listened to the lectures with much enthusiasm, raising many questions and opinions not only regarding the lectures but at places visited as well. The Korean participants in particular eagerly asked a lot of questions, since such issues as population aging and nonregular work are common to both Japan and Korea. The exchange and mutual understanding between China and Korea were also extremely beneficial, and participants were heard to comment that they wanted to further deepen this bilateral exchange in the future.
In the labour-related lectures, the participants understood that the rights of workers in Japan are protected by many laws and court precedents. It was also revealed in discussions that in Korea there is a job status between regular and nonregular employment, called “mid-regular” employment, and that in China discrimination is prohibited by law, so there is equal pay for equal work and gender equality. The participants deepened their understanding of the actual conditions and issues of nonregular workers in Japan and Korea.
The visit to RENGO Hyogo took place during a general election campaign, so the participants were able to gain an understanding of the electoral support provided by a regional branch of RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation). In addition, in the discussions they asked questions and exchanged opinions about such topics as assistance for nonregular workers in the spring labour struggle and efforts to expand organization. In the visit to a Hello Work employment office, the participants asked questions and stated their views on a wide range of issues, including financial resources for the operation of Hello Work offices, the designation of unemployment, insurance fees, and the problem of employment for disabled and elderly people. Furthermore, since nationwide job-seeking activities are possible by computer, the participants were able to experience searching for the availability of desired jobs and so on.
In the workplace visit, the participants went to the Hyogo Plant of Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd., where they inspected the manufacturing site for, among others, carriages of the Hokuriku Shinkansen and Sapporo subway trains (tire wheels).
In the lecture by the Japan Productivity Center, the Chinese participants pointed out that efforts were being made at the company level in China as well to carry out workplace reforms, implement proposals for rationalization, reduce costs, and promote technological innovations. They asked about specific efforts being made by workers in Japan.