The Constitutions of Japan guaranteed the “right to live.” Article 25 of the Japanese Constitution
explicitly describes the fundamental principle that “all citizens shall have the right to a minimum standard
of wholesome and cultured living.” Article 27 expresses rights and obligations to work and standards for
working conditions. In the same Article, the right to work imposes two obligations on the government: To
promote opportunities for workers to exercise their skills and abilities, and to provide a livelihood for
workers who have no chance to work.41 Article 28 provides three fundamental rights of the workers: the
right of workers to organize, to bargain collectively and to strike. It further states for provisions of law to regulate standards for wages, working hours, breaks and other working conditions.
Japanese labor legislation includes a number of laws to regulate employment practices. In order to
enforce labor law, the government has certain enforcement mechanisms, such as the court system,
administrative agencies, the Labor Office, and the Labor Relations Commission.
Different labor-related laws safeguard labor rights in Japan. Labour legislation comprises General Labor
Laws and Special Labor Laws. There are many other Labor Laws under these categories. These Labor
Laws may be grouped as follows: those laws that cover the rights of workers’ rights in relation to labor
unions; laws to protect workers, covering individual workers’ employment and the protection of workers
before and after application of employment policy; and laws concerning employment, which regulate the
external market.42 (also see Summary of Labor law presented in Figure 2.2 below).
In order to regulate employment security to protect labor rights, laws are promulgated and revised from
time to time to keep various groups in line. Laws are also drawn up to protect aging and handicapped
workers and to promote occupational abilities within the workforce. Similarly, in order to minimise
discrimination in the workforce in terms of gender and wages, legislation such as the Equal Employment
Opportunity Law and the Labour Standards Law are promulgated. The government revised the Labor
Standards Law in 1987 to reduce maximum working hours from 48 to 40 hours. The Child Care Leave
Law was enacted in 1991 in order to provide workers with the right to take childcare leave of up to one
The role of government is further explained with its contribution in devising various policy measures
from time to time. For example, Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare publishes White Papers
on the labor economy. The White Papers present trends in the labor economy, the situation in the labor
force and other labor-related policies. It works as a guideline for the management of employment...