Employment of Regular Employees in Japanese Companies is Membership-based

June 7, 2016 [No.25-2016]

Dr. Hiroyuki FUJIMURA
Hosei University


When hiring regular employees, Japanese companies adopt hiring criteria based on different concepts from companies in other countries. In the case of American or European companies, they should fill a specific position by hiring someone with specific job experience who can bring a desired outcome. This is “job-based employment” because it is based on specific duties.


On the other hand, when Japanese companies hire regular employees, especially in the case of hiring new graduates, they neither try to find personnel performing certain duties nor seek hands-on experience. Instead, they expect the person to first become a member of a company, gradually gain experience within it, and eventually advance to become capable of more challenging duties through this process. Such concept can be put as follows: “Please become a member of our company. After becoming a member, you can try different job types. Then, let’s decide the most suitable type of job for you.” Companies generally guarantee long-term employment so those being hired correspondingly accept this notion. They repeatedly experience personnel transfers and eventually increase their value as human assets. This is “membership-based employment.”


Membership-based employment has many advantages for management: (a) Employee allocation is flexible, (b) employees make efforts to improve the company performance because they view the company’s development and their financial stability sharing the same horizon, (c) employees give priority to their duties at the company than their personal life, and (d) it is possible to establish cooperative relations between labor and management.


Given these positive aspects, management must fulfill the responsibility of serving their employees by providing: (1) job security, (2) sufficient wages to secure a stable life, (3) educational and training opportunities, and (4) consideration to safety and health. With regard to the fourth point in particular, there is a need for companies to control the amount of workload in order to prevent prolonged overtime. However, in the midst of the worsened business environment, some companies have reduced the number of employees and forced remaining employees to work longer to fulfill their duties. As a result, prolonged overtime is becoming a problem for many companies.


Rationality is present in practices of the Japanese companies. However, sufficient explanation may not have been provided in an appropriate way to people overseas up to this point. For this reason, this essay aims to explain the actions of Japanese companies to make it understandable to people from overseas.


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