Temp Nation: The demise of “lifetime employment” in Japan

Posted on June 24, 2010 

Temp Nation: The demise of “lifetime employment” in Japan

For decades, Japan’s big firms were famous for their deal with employees: The corporation was a big family that looked after its workers for life. In return it expected total dedication.

That was the Japanese way, and part of the popular 1980s American media narrative on the rise of Japan, Inc.

It’s no longer true. Instead, more than 17 million people in the world’s second largest economy are now “irregular” workers, or temps, according to government statistics.

That’s nearly 34 percent of the workforce, up from 25 percent in 1999 and just 15 percent in 1984.

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