2 – Repeated violations of rights
The ITUC Global Rights Index


The ITUC affiliate in Japan is the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (JTUC-Rengo).

In practice

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Anti-union discrimination17-05-2014

The Japanese Trade Union Confederation (JTUC-RENGO) reports having witnessed many cases of discrimination against union members or activists. Companies are frequently refusing to bargain in good faith. In several cases management delayed negotiations with a view to block the bargaining process. Financial information about the companies that is essential for the bargaining process is only delivered after unions exert pressure. Concluded collective agreements are rarely extended and only apply to union members. Moreover, strikes in the public sector are forbidden, and incitation to strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
by public employees is illegal and punished with up to three years imprisonment. The Japan Confederation of Railway Workers’ Unions (JCRWU) reports being harassed by the Police and the Government on grounds of its alleged relations with the political group Kakumaru.

Obstruction of the right to organise31-08-2013

Under this programme, unskilled workers mostly from developing countries receive a one-year visa (renewable for up to three years) to come to Japan for technical training. Labour laws are applied to the trainees and they are granted the right to organise and so on, but it is reported that in some cases the trainees are sent to Japan by the dispatching organisation in their home country on the condition that they will not exercise the right to organise.

Furthermore, since the existence of an accepting organisation is a precondition for the trainees to enter Japan, the position of the accepting organisation is overwhelmingly advantageous compared to that of the trainees.

As a result, the strongly-positioned accepting organisations restrict the right to organise, and there are many cases in which trainees have been made to work long hours under very inadequate working conditions.

In addition, in the first stage of the technical training, the trainees are supposed to undergo a Japanese language course, but the judgment concerning whether the trainees are workers under the Trade Union Act during the period of the course is ambiguous.

Increased use of atypical workers cause difficulties for union organising31-12-2011

The number of atypical workers, including part-time employees, indirectly employed workers, dispatched agency workers, and workers on fixed-term contracts is growing. A Labour Force Survey conducted by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications found that 35,3% of Japanese employees were non-regular workers in the period between July and September 2011.

Inadequate legal protection of these workers has spurred the development. The law stipulates that fixed-term contracts can be concluded for up to three or five years – depending on the worker’s skill level – but there are no other legal provisions regulating the use of these contracts. The increased use of atypical workers undermines regular employment and makes union organising organising The process of forming or joining a trade union, or inducing other workers to form or join one. difficult. In the manufacturing sector in particular, disguised contract labour also has negative implications for working conditions and the health and safety of workers. The practice of undertaking business through holding companies and investment funds, both of which are not recognised as employers under Japanese law, has also caused significant difficulties for trade unions seeking to bargain collectively in such companies.

Diversification of types of enterprise30-11-2009

The Supreme Court ruled that an entity can only be considered an employer when “such an entity is in a position to actually determine workers’ basic working conditions” through direct involvement. In most cases, holding companies or investment fund companies (which are very common in Japan) are only indirectly involved in influencing the decisions on working conditions of their shareholding companies. Hence, they are not considered as employers in law, and it is difficult for trade unions to conduct collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
with holding companies or investment fund companies.

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