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Worker discontent, voice, and EI programs in Japan: Evidence from the Japanese worker representation and participation survey

Chuma, Hiroyuki; Kato, Takao; Ohashi, Isao

Using a unique new survey, the Japanese Worker Representation and Participation Survey (JWRPS), this paper documents that there is currently an alarming degree of worker discontent in Japan. Specifically, we find that: (i) nearly one in two Japanese workers usually do not look forward to going to work; (ii) almost one third of Japanese workers are dissatisfied with their current jobs and do not at all feel loyal to their employers or feel loyal only a little; (iii) nearly one in five Japanese workers either do not at all trust information provided by their firm or trust such information only a little; and (iv) fully 40 percent of Japanese workers rate labor management relations as only fair or poor. Estimating probit models, we find systematic evidence that such worker discontent is significantly related to the lack of strong employee voice on decisions affecting workplaces, and that the lack of or weakened use of Japan's once celebrated EI programs (such as Shopfloor Committees, Small Group Activities, and Joint Labor-Management Committees) is in part responsible for weak voice and hence an alarming degree of worker discontent. An important policy implication of our findings is that weakening Japan's participatory employment system (as the popular rhetoric at times suggests) may result in exacerbating the already alarming degree of worker discontent in Japan, and ultimately weakening the competitiveness of the Japanese economy.

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Academic Units
Center on Japanese Economy and Business
Publisher
Center on Japanese Economy and Business, Graduate School of Business, Columbia University
Series
Center on Japanese Economy and Business Working Papers, 235
Published Here
February 14, 2011
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