Japanese urged to rethink attitudes to women and older workers

2006

Japanese employers are being urged to give young people, women and older workers a "second chance" by offering them re-employment opportunities in an effort to offset declining numbers of young people in the country.

The Japanese government, in a white paper on lifestyle, has said it is an "urgent task" that employers review their current hiring practices and provide more opportunities for young people wanting to change their jobs, women returning to work after raising children, or elderly who are willing to work.

It expressed concern over the current situation in which older people find it harder to change jobs or to seek reemployment, saying this could "cement social disparity".

The paper calculated that the number of people failing to find jobs of their first choice at the time of graduation, and hoping to change their job if possible, surged by about 30 per cent in 2004, from 4.26 million in 1992.

In general, Japanese companies are happy to tolerate candidates who have spent extra years in college or who repeated years, but tougher on those who have quit their job two to three years after graduation.

The government is urging companies to change their attitude toward candidates who made such a "detour" after graduating from college.

On the elderly, it has said the potential unemployment rates of people in their late 60s, including those who are not looking for jobs because absence of suitable work or other reasons, totalled 8.9 per cent, surpassing the average of all age groups by 2.6 percentage points.

The report called on the government to an environment in which people with special knowledge and skills easily participated in communal activities and make social contributions.

On women who had finished rearing children, the report said it was a problem that the longer their absence from work, the lower their skill levels became, making it harder for them to find reemployment opportunities.

The report said many women would continue working after bearing children and proposed that they take advantage of maternity leave through contract employment system, and that companies needed to develop more on-site nurseries.