Monday 20 February 2017 6.45pm
The Swedenborg Society
20-21 Bloomsbury Way (Hall entrance on Barter St)
London WC1A 2TH
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Free – booking recommended
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This talk addresses the ‘new’ Abenomics, which was announced in September 2015, by focusing on the labour market policy. In addition to the three policy arrows of the original Abenomics, which were combined as the first new arrow aimed at GDP 600 trillion yen, the new Abenomics added two new arrows aimed at improving the fertility rate and reducing the number of workers who leave work because of elderly care (kaigo rishoku). To realize these new policies, the Abe administration proposed to limit overtime work and improve the work conditions of non-regular workers by introducing ‘equal pay for equal work’ and raising the minimum wage.
However, this labour market policy is contradictory to the previous deregulatory policy that has made the work situation of non-regular workers more unstable and is likely to increase the working poor. Despite being useful for striking a better work-life balance and increasing women’s labour market participation, the reform of working hours aimed at reducing overtime and improving labour productivity may also result in work-time deregulation aimed at reducing labour cost. This talk emphasizes that these reform measures are not only about improving work conditions but also about achieving economic growth. The labour market policy in the new Abenomics can be characterised as a growth-oriented economic policy, part of the Abe administration’s grand strategy for revitalising the economy and achieving Japan’s greater role and competitiveness in the global political economy.
Hiroaki Richard Watanabe (D.Phil., University of Oxford) is a lecturer at the School of East Asian Studies, University of Sheffield. He is an expert in comparative/Japanese political economy and international relations in East Asia. His recent publications include Labour market deregulation in Japan and Italy: Worker protection under neoliberal globalisation (Routledge, 2014) and ‘The struggle for revitalisation by Japanese labour unions: Worker organising after labour-market deregulation’, (Journal of Contemporary Asia, 2015). He has appeared in TV programs for Channel NewsAsia Singapore and BBC News and provided his opinion on Abenomics, the Japanese emperor’s abdication, TPP and President Obama’s visit to Japan.