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HOME  > Past issues  > 2012 July 18 - 24  > Poverty spreading among female workers in Japan
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2012 July 18 - 24 [LABOR]

Poverty spreading among female workers in Japan

July 14, 2012
Many Japanese female workers are sinking into poverty.

Following is an Akahata interview with Goto Michio, professor of Tsuru University.

An employment status survey published by the internal affairs ministry found that the group of workers who earn between 2 and 3 million yen a year was overwhelmingly single female workers in 2007. About one-third of single working women earned less than 2 million yen a year and may be increasing now.

Japanese-style employment practices have in the past assumed that women will not continue to work as regular workers. They presumed that female workers would quit their jobs after getting married or becoming pregnant. Even if the workers stayed in their workplaces, most of them had to give up the quest to obtain higher positions. This situation basically remains unchanged.

The ratio of female regular employees to the total women workforce has been decreasing since 1997, down to 45.4% this spring, and female contingent workers are increasing. The number of female non-regular workers who are seeking jobs has exceeded that of unemployed women since 2004.

Working conditions have sharply worsened since 2001: Large companies’ massive dismissals have been rampant, easing labor regulations has encouraged employers to replace their regular workers with non-regular workers, and the weakening of the unemployment insurance program has forced the unemployed to accept positions as contingent workers.

To improve women’s job situation, it is essential for them to join trade unions and fight together with union members. General unions which organize individual workers can play a key role.
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