Increase in unstable jobs is no feat to boast of -- Akahata editorial, June 7

The unemployment rate stood at 4.7 percent in April, unchanged from the previous month. The government touts this as a sign of remarkable improvement in employment and an achievement of its "structural reform" policy. (The fourth report of the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy)

Although the official unemployment rate has dropped under 5 percent, 3.35 million people are actually out of work. It is particularly serious among young people: 10.8 percent of people 24 and younger are left without jobs.

31% are contingent workers

Look at the unemployment figures for the last 30 years and you will find how extraordinary it is to have more than 3.3 million people without jobs.

During the 20 years since the latter half of the 1970s following the oil crisis that worsened the job market, the number of the unemployed remained somewhere around one million, less than half the present number. The number was 2 million until 1998. Only after 1999 did the number exceed the 3 million mark.

The unemployment rate did fall, but the problem remains; the number of jobs is increasing mainly in unstable employment including part-timers and service-providing workers. In the three years under the Koizumi Cabinet, 2.6 million regular (full-time) jobs were lost. The number of non-regular jobs increased by 1.95 million, bringing the total number to 15.55 million. Unstable job holders now account for 31.5 percent of the total workers, excluding executives.

The problem is that unstable jobs are increasing among young people, pushing up the number of increasing young part-time workers to more than 4 million. Their annual income is as low as 1 million or 2 million yen. In most cases, they are left without basic labor rights because they serve as the regulating valve for corporate employment. They are complaining about having to always change jobs, or work without workers' basic rights guaranteed for those on contract for providing services. Many say they can't endure the pains any longer.

Large corporations are gaining record profits at the sacrifice of young workers who have to work for low wages or be dismissed like disposables. It is their social responsibility to encourage young people, the key players of future society.

It is also a great disadvantage for Japan's future that young and hopeful people cannot get stable jobs.

The increase in non-regular workers will cause a shortage of skilled workers and put the brakes on economic development.

If our young citizens cannot financially support themselves, the birthrate will further decline, and the number of people who pay the employee pension premiums and support the pension system will decrease.

The Koizumi Cabinet is responsible for the increasing number of non-regular workers. It has encouraged corporate restructuring replacing regular workers with non-regular workers in order to supposedly "increase international competitiveness."

Stressing the need to "review systems and enable workers to choose various ways of working", Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro has adversely revised the labor laws one after another to make it easier for companies to use temporary workers and workers on fixed-term contracts.

Work with human dignity

The Japanese Communist Party has insisted that the rapid increase in workers with unstable jobs is a serious problem and that it will have an adverse influence on Japan's future, and demanded that the large corporations fulfill their social responsibilities in this regard.

As one of its six main policies for the House of Councilors election, the JCP calls for a halt to the increase in unstable jobs and for more jobs to be created for young people. It is making efforts to realize its proposals to eliminate unusually long hours of work and to hire more workers, to set a law that will require employees to treat regular and non-regular workers equally, and to take measures to increase job opportunities for young people. (end)

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