Project Title: EmploymentSustainability and the Shifting Paradigm of Labour Law
Hajime Wada, Professor, Graduate School of Law, Nagoya University
Research Project No.: 15H057260001
Researcher No.: 30158703
Research Area: Law
Keywords: Sustainability, Employment System, Paradigm Shift, Labour Law

Background and Purpose of Research

The corrosion of the employment system constitutes a phenomenon common to industrialised countries, albeit manifest in various shapes and degrees. International organisations and national Governments have conducted miscellaneous experiments aimed at remedying the situation. However, in Japan there is apprehension that weakening of the system has become increasingly acute. This research views contemporary characteristics, such as the bipolarisation of employment, growing stratum of working-poor, work-life imbalance, and exploitative companies as a “crisis of sustainability”. And, in order to secure and maintain a system of sustainable employment, it aims to explore the possibility of a “new paradigm of labour law”, which is aligned to the ideas incorporated in the ILO’s “decent work agenda”, “quality job creation” as set forth in the Group of Twenty (G20) Communiqué, and the “formation of a broad middle class”, as advocated for in a MHLW report.

Research Methodology:

  1. 1Topic of Research
    It is imperative, first of all, to accurately analyse the current state of employment. Although scholars of labour law and labour-management relations are largely in unison in perceiving the contemporary employment system to be deteriorating, differences exist in the extent to which this weakening is viewed as a serious issue. The focus of this research comprises a critical analysis the employment policy that is advancing under Abenomics.


    Next, in order to prescribe a remedy, it is necessary to identify the root of the corrosion. This research group perceives the leading cause to be the employment policy effective since the 1980s, particularly, since the 1990s. During this time, a critical examination of traditional labour law theory evolved into a discourse on the formation of a new paradigm, which in the process chipped away at the traditional foundations. The essence of this research, that is the exploration of a new paradigm of labour law, has its basis in the aforementioned development.


    Accordingly, this research proposes a regulatory model for a new system of employment, presented in terms of a “standard labour-management relations model”. This model, which targets not only employment, but also encompasses workers’ livelihood security, including social security, will serve as the as the premise for a legislative proposal.

  2. 2Method of Research
    The labour law theory study group established in 2008 to conduct the Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (A) shall continue to co-ordinate this project. This body is composed of researchers in labour law and social security law, as well as legal practitioners, and thus links theoretical and practical perspectives.

    Comparative legal research shall focus on Europe (particularly Germany) and the Republic of Korea, with the addition of Taiwan. The former provides a basis from which to research the Social European Model, and the latter offers insights into the construction of an East Asian Model.

Expected Research Achievements and Scientific Significance:

This research project undertakes to propose the reconstruction of labour law in a way befitting the key concepts of“decent work agenda”, “quality job creation”, “formation of a broad middle class”, as charted by the ILO and in other international reports. Its significance lies therein. Research results will, 1) reveal the potential shape of “sustainable employment”, 2) establish models for the minimum wage system, employment diversity, new forms of social inclusion, and the social security system, 3) set forth prohibition of discrimination rules for equality in employment, 4) educe a Japan-style model for the equal pay for equal work principle, 5) offer an opinion on the relation between employment and the safety net, and 6) propose policy for legislation.

Publications Relevant to the Project

Wada, Hajime (2008). The Guarantee of Human Rights and Labour Law <in Japanese>. Nippon Hyoron Sha Co., Ltd.
Waltermann, Raimund (2010). The Demise of Normal Labour-Management Relations? <in German> C.H.Beck.
Wada, Hajime, Shigeru Wakita, and Masahiro Yano (eds.) (2013). Worker Despatch and Law <in Japanese>. Nippon Hyoron Sha Co., Ltd.
Nishitani, Satoshi, Hajime Wada, and Hongyu Park (2014). Japanese and Korean Comparative Labour Law I & II <in Japanese>. Junposha.

Project Term and Budget Allocation:

FY 2015 ~ FY 2019

JPY 76,000,000