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Japanese employment law

Japanese employment laws mainly cover employer-employee relationships. These laws apply to all employees working in Japan regardless of their nationality. However, board members as defined under the Company Act (2005) as well asindependent contractors are not categorised as employeessubject to Japanese employment laws, in principle, and therefore are not protected under Japanese employment laws.


Key Points

  • Japanese employment laws mainly cover employer-employee relationships. Board members and independent contractors are, in principle, not categorised as employees.
  • There is no “at will” employment in Japan. Japanese law requires that termination of regular employment shall be considered objectively, deemed reasonable, and appropriate upon social convention, which is read rigidly in light of Japanese judicial precedent.
  • Regulation concerning overtime work has been strengthened with the recent legislative amendments. In principle, work on statutory public holidays and late-night work requires extra allowance in addition to the normal wage.
  • Japanese law provides various protections against discriminative treatments not only by reason of nationality, creed, social status or gender, but also due to the association with union activities, or taking child care or nursing care leave. There is also a prohibition against unreasonable differences between full-time permanent employees and non-regular employees. Furthermore, an employer’s obligation to prevent harassment has been strengthened in light of the recent legislative amendments.
  • Dominant majority unions in Japan are deemed as enterprise unions. The unionisation rate in Japan has been considerably and continuously declining.

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Atsumi & Sakai
Fukoku Seimei Bldg.
Reception: 16F
2-2-2 Uchisaiwaicho, Chiyoda-ku
100-0011 Tokyo
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+81 355 012 111

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