Regular Meeting with Nippon Keidanren

Opinion Exchange on Employment and Workplace Revitalization

14 September 2004
On September 7, RENGO held its regular meeting with Nippon Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) at the Keidanren Kaikan Hall. Participants included President Sasamori, Acting President Hitomi, several Vice Presidents, General Secretary Kusano, and Assistant General Secretaries from RENGO. From Keidanren, Chairman Okuda, Vice Chairmen, Chairmen from related committees, and Senior Managing Director Yano also attended. Members exchanged opinions on the themes of employment and "revitalizing and making workplaces attractive."

Photo: RENGO holds three regular meetings with Nippon Keidanren a year (September 7, Keidanren Kaikan Hall) Photo: RENGO holds three regular meetings with Nippon Keidanren a year (September 7, Keidanren Kaikan Hall)
RENGO President Sasamori and Nippon Keidanren Chairman Okuda each gave speeches at the outset of the meeting. Touching on the social security system issue, Sasamori emphasized the necessity of labor-management cooperation by stating that “at the Committee on Social Security Review I felt every non-governmental member from labor and management attended the meeting with great expectations. I want to accomplish fundamental reform of the social security system by any means. We want to cooperate together with Keidanren to make the most of this opportunity so that we may establish robust systems for the people." Continuing, Sasamori remarked on a recent and seemingly unending series of accidents and misconduct against which he spoke out by saying "it is not right when safety controls are neglected due to overly aggressive downsizing. We want the issue of safety controls to be treated as a critical item in the conducting of all of managements’ operations." Regarding employment issues, Sasamori expressed concern that management seeks only short-term interest and is not looking at the situation from a medium to long term standpoint. He touched on the current situation where (management) is placing work in the hands of part-time and outsourced workers with lower wages. He said, "We want to hold discussions between labor and management on how to establish proper employment and labor practices in Japan."

Responding to Sasamori's remarks, Chairman Okuda recognized the ongoing aging society and falling birthrate as one of the constraining factors which limit the growth of the Japanese economy and at the same time is the most crucial issue. Okuda said, "We want to think about what courses of action there are for the employment of the young, our seniors, women and foreign workers while we look ahead toward creating new jobs." Okada also pointed out that in the long term, the impact of scientific and technological progress on growth policy will be huge in the 21st century. He said he would like to think about employment in this context. He also spoke about the power of human resources in the workplace saying, "it is important to share a strong sense of crisis and to increase communication between labor and management in order to revive the strength of human resources."

Following this, an opinion exchange was held on the topics of "job problems" and "revitalizing and making workplaces attractive." RENGO participants expressed their opinions on a variety of issues including: the nature of job measures as well as job creating measures, responses to the job issues of young people, midterm prospects for labor supply and demand including foreign workers issues, responses to continuing corporate accidents and scandals, a study on CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) regularization, equal treatment in the face of increased atypical employment, abolition of unpaid overtime work and work-sharing, the state of skill development at businesses, and so on. In response, Nippon Keidanren members replied that with regard to accidents at businesses, due to an excessively merit or performance-based system, advanced technology is not being passed on and the power of human resources is declining, therefore it is crucial that labor and management take action so that skills and technology are passed on. Regarding CSR, they said that many business leaders understand its importance but are opposed to its regularization, and that it is necessary to discuss what themes need to be decided through dialogue with trade unions and others.