Nippon Keidanren released its Report of the Committee on Management and Labor Policy (hereafter, the Report) on January 19, 2010. In spite of the enormous changes that have taken place in the basic requirements and conditions for the further growth of companies and society, the Report is mired in micro-level logic throughout and fails to go beyond the traditional argument for cutting total personnel expenses.
In comparison with other advanced countries, the Japanese economy is faced with a very serious situation. The annualized economic growth rate for the 2008 October-December period registered a two digit negative value at minus 12.1%. The active job openings ratio was 0.67, recording a decrease for 12 consecutive months, with the number of unemployed for involuntary reasons surpassing one million and the total unemployment rising to 2.80 million, showing a deterioration in the employment environment. According to a trial calculation by the government, the GDP gap has exceeded minus 20 trillion yen, and a further increase in the unemployment rate is feared.
In the midst of the simultaneous global economic recession originating in the financial crisis in the United States of America, the economy continues to deteriorate rapidly and the employment/unemployment situation is becoming more serious due to, among other factors, a sharp reduction in output, and employment insecurity is growing among the population. There is a concern that the employment/unemployment situation will become even more severe than at present.
Investment fund regulations and improvement of M&A rules
The improvement of M&A rules and the regulation of investment funds are critical issues in Japan, as elsewhere. Investment funds, including hedge funds and private equity funds, have been forced to face rapid capital drain and have lost momentum due to the global financial and economic crisis which began in 2008.
This is an urgent job creation program to run for approximately three years, mainly in the “green jobs” and healthcare and welfare sectors, and designed from the perspective of the “Japanese version of Green New Deal.” The number of jobs to be created is a rough estimation. The creation of 1.8 million jobs will help improve the unemployment rate by nearly 3%.
RENGO recognizes that the present economy and society under the critical situation are brought by the market fundamentalism which has been called the global standard. At this historical turning point, RENGO believes that now is the time to shift into values putting priority on fairness and solidarity, in order to realize Land of Hope, Japan.
At its Central Executive Committee meeting on 23 October 2008, we RENGO decided to play our proper role as a driving force of the movement as well as to work toward the formation of a broad national consensus in order to achieve a paradigm shift.
RENGO is devoted to establishing an economic and social system combining fairness and efficiency, demanding the creation of a “work-centered welfare society,” correcting the economically stratified society and helping to build a social fabric stressing the importance of solidarity and compassion.
Based on this position, RENGO has formulated its priority policies on specific themes for fiscal year 2009.
While executive compensation in main companies has shown double-digit increase, the wages of workers have fallen as seen in the surveys of both “Monthly Labor Statistics” and “Statistics on the Real Situation of Wages in the Private Sector”. Moreover, the number of non-regular workers who are considered to belong to lower wage brackets is increasing. The actual situation of excessively long working hours of rank and file is not yet improved. Thus, against the background of the progress of a bipolarization and the expansion of disparities, the workers’ relative share to the gains is declining from a macro point of view.
“The Report of the Committee on Management and Labor Policy” (hereafter the Report) announced by Japan Business Federation (NIPPON-KEIDANREN) on December 19th, 2007 raises those problems like promotion of productivity, strengthening of international competition and the necessity of building up a all-the-members participating type of society, as the problems which now confront us and should be settled as early as possible,in the economic and social circumstantial changes such as further progress of the globalization and a trend towards declining birthrate. JTUC-RENGO can own this way of thinking jointly as a common recognition.
Within the last couple of years, private equity and hedge funds have emerged as some of the most dominant financial and corporate players. It has worsened a range of problems with regard to financial stability, transparency, corporate governance and others. Also, many workers at an enterprise damaged by these funds are under the decreasing of the working conditions, unemployment and unions activities.
RENGO adopted at its Central Executive Committee meeting on 13 September 2007 "A RENGO Perspective - Approaches and Policy Issues concerning Hedge and PE Funds", which describes cases of corporate buyouts and M&A and proposes, as well as revision of labour and corporate laws, possible actions to be taken by trade unions particularly at the enterprise level.
Debates on CSR are gaining impetus internationally, and there is growing interest in Japan as well.
Up until now, in the face of frequent incidents of corporate malfeasance and accidents, discussions on CSR in Japan have focused on the issue of corporate governance, placing importance on the relations between businesses and their stakeholders, or on compliance management, meaning compliance with relevant laws and regulations. However, more recently, they have come to encompass debates over corporate responsibility in relation to new developments in international criteria and standards, local communities and society, and cultures and the environment, going beyond the original framework of CSR.
Trade unions also need to have an accurate grasp of these developments in the discussions on CSR, address these developments actively, and at the same time fulfill their own social responsibility, going beyond the frameworks of individual corporations.
The following document presents RENGO’s basic views on CSR. Affiliates at various levels and Local RENGOs are expected to discuss specific activities on CSR based on these views. In the future, RENGO will continue to present specific policies on CSR from time to time, when necessary.
With the advent of “globalization,” not only the “movement of goods” such as commodities and capital across national borders, but also the “movement of persons” has been increasing dramatically. It seems clear that these movements will gain momentum in the future, and Japan will also be affected by them. In Japan, there is a growing debate on the movement of persons across national borders. Based on developments in both the world and Japan, RENGO has compiled and proposes the following “RENGO’s Current Stance on the Issue of Foreign Workers.”
The damage caused by asbestos exposure is growing. According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, the death toll from mesothelioma, which is heavily suspected to be caused by asbestos, was 953 in 2004, the highest recorded figure so far, and the number of cases certified as eligible for coverage under workers’ accident compensation insurance is also increasing sharply. Health damage due to exposure to asbestos will certainly increase rapidly in the coming months and years.
In October 2002, RENGO adopted this RENGO “Vision for Social Security in the 21st Century.” The full “Vision” is quite long, taking up more than 110 pages including the data. In order to have as many members of RENGO affiliates as possible gain a deeper understanding of the contents of the “Vision” and to work together with us toward bringing the “Vision” to fruition, we produced a digest edition in January 2003, along with easy-to-understand explanations. This English version presents excerpts from the Japanese pamphlet.