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HOME  > Past issues  > 2022 May 18 - 24  > 4,500 non-regular researchers at national universities and research institutes may face dismissals
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2022 May 18 - 24 [LABOR]

4,500 non-regular researchers at national universities and research institutes may face dismissals

May 18, 2022

National universities and research institutes, in order to evade their legal obligation, may end up terminating employment contracts of about 4,500 non-regular researchers by the end of March 2023.

Japanese Communist Party member of the Upper House Tamura Tomoko raised this issue at a meeting of the House of Councilors Cabinet Committee on May 17.

The Labor Contract Act which was revised in 2013 requires employers to offer open-ended contracts to non-regular employees who have worked for more than five years under fixed-term contracts if they wish to do so. The law, however, sets an exception and allows universities and research institutes to hire non-regular researchers on fixed-term contracts for up to ten years. After their terms expire, the academic authorities are obliged to provide permanent positions to the non-regular researchers. In order to evade this legal obligation, some academic institutions terminate fixed-term contracts before non-regular researchers become eligible to apply for permanent employment.

The number of non-regular researchers at national universities increased to 24,501 in 2021 from 1,666 in 2001 while that of researchers in permanent employment decreased by nearly 20,000.

Asked by Tamura about the number of targeted researchers, a high-ranking official of the Education Ministry answered, "3,099," of the non-regular researchers at national universities may be affected.

Tamura pointed out that 1,390 researchers at national research institutes now face possible termination of their fixed-term contracts, and that about 4,500 non-regular researchers at national universities and national research institutes combined may lose their research positions.

She warned, "It will be a social loss if research is impeded due to the termination of their contracts, striking a severe blow to Japanese research and development into the future."

Kobayashi Takayuki, Minister of State for Science and Technology Policy in the Cabinet Office, in response said, "To improve Japan's research quality, it is important to provide an environment for researchers to be able to devote themselves to settle into their research. From this perspective, to ensure stable employment for researchers in line with the purpose of the Labor Contract Act is important."

Tamura demanded that the government instruct academic institutions not to terminate non-regular researchers' contracts.

Past related article:
> JCP Tamura urges gov’t to instruct RIKEN to withdraw planned dismissal of 600 researchers [March 29, 2022]

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