[ Nippon Keidanren ] [ Policy ]
(unofficial translation)

Tripartite Agreement on Employment Issues

December 4, 2002

Nippon Keidanren
(Japan Business Federation)

After examining the current employment situation at Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's request of November 26, 2002, government, employer and labor representatives agreed to work together to ensure job security.

Tripartite Council on Employment Issues

The deteriorating employment situation is a serious problem for the nation's social stability and is a factor that will hinder sound economic development and promotion of structural reform in the years ahead. Based on a shared understanding that ensuring job security is their urgent task, the government, employers and labor will cooperate with each other toward building a society in which workers, the backbone of the country, can have motivation to work and enterprises can operate with vitality.

On the basis of this tripartite agreement, the government will immediately take the necessary measures, including compiling a fiscal 2002 supplementary budget and a fiscal 2003 budget and presenting related bills. Employers and workers' organizations, for their part, will support and cooperate with government measures and work together to stabilize corporate management and ensure job security. They will also engage in close consultation to maintain smooth labor relations and appropriate personnel administration.

The three sides will continue to consult as necessary and cooperate with each other to expand their agreement and contribute to economic growth as well as stabilize and enhance citizens' livelihood.

1. Job Security

Employers reaffirm their awareness of their social mission to ensure job security and to renew their efforts to maintain and secure employment. At the same time, in today's severe business conditions there are limits to what employers can do to ensure job security, and it is important to reduce employment-related costs.
In response to corporate efforts to ensure job security, labor, for its part, extends cooperation with employers to strengthen the corporate base in adopting more diverse employment patterns, including work-sharing schemes, enhancing productivity and reducing costs. Labor will also be flexible in agreeing to new working conditions when job security must be ensured through reductions in employment costs.
Employers and labor will engage in close consultation on administration of working hours and other personnel administration issues to solve problems which may arise.
The government will respond to management-labor efforts by making the labor insurance system more efficient and more priority-oriented and offer more support to enterprises' efforts to ensure job security.

2. Employment promotion

Under the current severe employment situation and rising unemployment, it is the government's duty to extend full support to motivated job seekers, including new school graduates, so that they can find employment where they can put their motivation to work.
Accordingly, there is a pressing need to establish a reemployment promotion scheme, expand employment and job placement opportunities, and make optimum use of financial resources for employment insurance. These measures will be actively coordinated to establish a job placement promotion scheme.

(1) Reemployment promotion scheme

The government will create a comprehensive, individually-oriented job placement promotion scheme focusing on strongly motivated job seekers. This will involve the following measures: 1) reforming the functions of public employment agencies by utilizing private-sector personnel resources to increase placement support staff and to offer comprehensive services such as recruitment promotion, career consulting, and job referrals; 2) using private job placement agencies; 3) actively promoting trial employment and tailor-made vocational training; and 4) providing better support for corporate efforts to recruit new school graduates and to find early reemployment for separated workers.

(2) Job creation

In the years ahead, the government will promote structural reform leading to the nurturing of advanced manufacturing industries, revitalizing the financial sector and developing the industrial infrastructure by improving the distribution system and so on. At the same time, the government will strive to create jobs mainly in the service sector.
The government will also take the following measures to encourage the startup of new companies and existing companies' expansion into new business areas, and to create sustainable employment opportunities: 1) smooth implementation of the Law for the Support of Small and Medium Companies' Challenge, which stipulates, among other provisions, the granting of special exceptions for minimum capitalization, 2) ensuring a smooth flow of funds for new businesses starting up and existing companies' expansion into new business areas, 3) support for the startup of new companies and the launch of new businesses through technological development, 4) development of human resources capable of contributing to founding new companies and to corporate rehabilitation, 5) entrepreneurial education for students, and 6) better support for setting up new businesses and improved evaluation systems.

At the same time, the government will undertake various emergency job creation programs, since in some business sectors structural reform will take time. These programs will include: 1) increasing emergency special subsidies for regional job creation and studying the role that small and medium enterprises can play in this subsidy program; 2) expanding the existing special fund for emergency job creation to provide stronger support for companies trying to expand employment opportunities by placing jobless workers, supporting company startups or establishing new subsidiaries and affiliates with the aim of responding to the deteriorating employment situation resulting from acceleration of the disposal of bad loans; and 3) improving and expanding subsidies for implementing emergency-type work-sharing, and accelerating tripartite consultations on work-sharing involving diversified employment patterns.

(3) Reform of the employment insurance system

In view of the severe employment situation and high unemployment, as well as the precarious finances of the employment insurance system, comprehensive reform will be undertaken, including the establishment of benefit levels aimed at promoting early reemployment, standardization of benefits for regular and part-time workers, prioritization of benefits for workers who are unemployed due to bankruptcies or firings, and prioritization and streamlining of the government's three employment insurance programs, to ensure stable administration of the system as a sustainable safety net.
The level of insurance contribution rates necessary for ensuring the stable administration of the employment insurance system will be reviewed with due consideration for the system's function as a mechanism for automatically stabilizing business conditions. Industrial accident compensation insurance contribution rates will be reviewed at the same time.

3. Reform of Labor Markets

Regulatory reform of labor markets will be promoted and labor laws will be reviewed in response to the current employment situation, to promote diversification of employment with future expansion of employment opportunities and economic growth in mind.
Current labor market practices will be reviewed to facilitate reemployment of middle-aged and older workers.

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