Stability and Change in Japanese Employment Institutions

The Case of Temporary Work

  • Karen A. Shire (Autor/in)


The expansion of temporary employment, more than any other recent employment change, has been credited with unraveling long-term employment commitments in the U.S. This paper raises the question of whether a major recent deregulation of temporary employment in Japan can be expected to have similar effects. Within neo-institutionalist research, debates about the effects of liberalisation on institutional continuity and change tend to focus on the persistence of traditional arrangements, ignoring developments in new sectors and new forms of employment. In this paper we approach the issue of the future of long-term employment from the perspective of the recent development of temporary work. While the deregulation of this employment form is too recent to assess its effects, we expect that a new strata of “permanent temporary” employees will eventually impact on long-term employment practices. In the meantime however, old inequalities, based in the gendered segmentation of employment, seem to be re-cast in the form of temporary labor.