Law targets industry competitiveness

A law designed to reinforce Japan’s industrial competitiveness by enabling closer collaboration among industry, academia and the government was enacted Friday.

Among other things, the law allows state university professors to serve concurrently on the boards of private companies, which is currently forbidden.

Over the next few months, many corporations will be renewing their executive rosters ahead of their annual shareholders’ meetings. To aid those corporations, the government is expected to draw up relevant ministry ordinances and regulations — which are required for the prompt application of the new law — by the end of the month.

The law will also enable national university professors to set up companies in order to commercialize the results of their research and serve on the boards of private firms.

It will also become easier for state universities to obtain research funding from private corporations.

But to prevent collusion between staff at state universities and businesses, serving on the board of a private firm will require screening and approval by the National Personnel Authority.

While there will be no remuneration cap for those holding jobs at both national universities and private firms, the National Personnel Authority will make public the nature of the activities academics are engaged in at the companies.

Unemployed pay cut

The House of Representatives approved a bill Friday to revise the unemployment insurance law to pave the way for a reduction in unemployment insurance benefits by more than 20 percent and an accompanying rise in insurance premiums.

Under the revised law, the premium will be set at 1.2 percent of an individual’s wages starting next April 1. The ratio is now set at 0.8 percent. The unemployment insurance program is facing a financial crunch as a result of recession-induced joblessness.

The raise will force an average wage earner with an annual income of 4.7 million yen to pay 9,400 yen more a year in monthly insurance contributions.

The duration of the period during which unemployed workers may receive such benefits will be set at between 90 days and 180 days depending on age and length of career, compared with 90 days to 300 days at present.

People who lose their jobs due to corporate restructuring or bankruptcy will be eligible to receive such benefits for up to an extra 150 days.