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 Hifumi Okunuki

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Hifumi Okunuki
Hifumi Okunuki teaches at Sagami Women’s University and serves as the executive president of Tozen Union (Zenkoku Ippan Tokyo General Union). She can be reached at [email protected]. On the second Thursday of the month, Hifumi looks at cases in Japan’s legal history to illustrate important principles in labor law.
For Hifumi Okunuki's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Issues / LABOR PAINS
Feb 25, 2015
Under Japanese law, breaks are sacred and standby counts as work
If your employer is keeping you waiting long hours on standby without paying you and calling it 'break time,' they are breaking the law.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Issues / LABOR PAINS
Jan 21, 2015
Forty years after Zainichi labor case victory, is Japan turning back the clock?
Efforts against nationality-based discrimination in Japan have made zero progress in the four decades since a landmark court case against Hitachi.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Issues / LABOR PAINS
Dec 24, 2014
Standing up to the country's flagship carrier
An airplane crash in 1977 would inspire one JAL employee, Taeko Uchida, to get serious about union activism in a way that would decades later find her leading a legal and labor battle against Japan's flagship carrier.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Issues / LABOR PAINS
Nov 26, 2014
Would-be NTV announcer's fate hangs on issues of morality and fraud
How will Japan's odd mutation of the traditional job of news announcer impact the Tokyo court's decision on the fate of Rina Sasazaki?
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Issues / LABOR PAINS
Oct 29, 2014
'Maternity harassment' verdict benefits women, men — and our humanity
The landmark quality of the Supreme Court ruling cannot be overstated. If women can be demoted for getting pregnant, then women who care about their careers will hesitate to have children at all.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Issues / LABOR PAINS
Sep 24, 2014
Job insecurity among Japan's university teachers is a recipe for further decline
Increasing the number of academic working poor hired as part-time teachers flies in the face of the education ministry's call to build universities that 'can compete on the world stage.'
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Issues / LABOR PAINS
Jul 23, 2014
A democratically elected rep is every worker's legal right
The lack of a freely and fairly elected workers' rep could cost employees dearly in the long run.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Issues / LABOR PAINS
Jun 9, 2014
AKB48 members deserve to get workers’ comp for saw attack
Are members of girl group AKB48 'workers' under the law and therefore eligible for industrial accident insurance? The evidence suggests so.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Issues / LABOR PAINS
May 7, 2014
Japanese firms have much to lose in battles over bogus outsourcing
The biggest reason companies sign outsourcing contracts with regular workers is to avoid all the obligations employers have to regular employees according to labor law.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Issues / LABOR PAINS
Apr 9, 2014
Foreign workers fear exploitation as Olympic projects gather steam
My first Labor Pains column of the new fiscal year will look at the government's recent proposal for bringing in foreign workers.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Issues / LABOR PAINS
Mar 26, 2014
Holding on to resignation letters may be common but it's neither right nor valid
NHK President Katsuto Momii's move to force board members to submit undated resignations for him to hold over them while he submits no such letter to them is tantamount to a declaration of dictatorship at the public broadcaster.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Issues / LABOR PAINS
Feb 12, 2014
ANA caricature speaks volumes about Japan's outdated mind-set
My personal opinion is that the ad is a disappointing anachronism, and a reminder of the parochial outlook of large Japanese corporations. The ad appeals to the facile formula that 'foreigner = white = blonde and big-nosed = English-speaking = globalization.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Issues / LABOR PAINS
Jan 8, 2014
Restore the shuttered-up New Year's of yore
First of all, I would like to wish a happy new year to all the readers of Labor Pains. While labor news has generally been a gloomy topic of late, it is my hope that this year will bring brighter things for me to write about.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Issues / LABOR PAINS
Dec 11, 2013
The year in labor: the Top 5 pains of 2013
For Japan's workers, the last 12 months have been a mixed bag. The Top 5 Labor Pains of 2013 will focus on what really shook things up in terms of labor relations and employment law.
COMMUNITY / Issues / LABOR PAINS
Nov 13, 2013
Real 'labor cops' also deserve to get the star treatment
The show 'Dandarin' says a great deal about Japanese office politics and corporate practices that are long overdue some serious scrutiny.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Issues / LABOR PAINS
Oct 7, 2013
The Special Dismissal Zone: where legal protections no longer apply
The government's Special Employment Zone wheeze has already been dubbed the Special Dismissal Zone, or kaiko tokku, by the media.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Issues / LABOR PAINS
Sep 23, 2013
Matahara: turning the clock back on women's rights
Both statutory and case law are crystal clear on the illegality of firings due to pregnancy. But the law is one thing; practice is quite another.
COMMUNITY / Issues / LABOR PAINS
Aug 19, 2013
Union, business concerns put limits on freedom of speech
Hot on the heels of their romp to victory in the race for control of the House of Councilors, the Liberal Democratic Party is chomping at the bit to overhaul the Constitution, which has not been amended since it was signed into law in 1946. The ruling party proposes gutting Article 9, which forever bans war, and laying the legal groundwork for an official national military.
COMMUNITY / Issues / LABOR PAINS
Jul 15, 2013
Unwritten perks can trump work rules, contracts, even laws
At a certain company, workers take their lunch break every day from 12 to 1 p.m. But just 10 minutes before noon, a small contingent of workers get up and leave the room. A few minutes later the fragrance of miso soup wafts in from the kitchen. Employees take turns making the soup for the benefit of those employees who bring a bentō lunch box for their midday meal. When the clock strikes 12, those eating out get up and leave, while the lunch box bunch march off to the kitchen to enjoy their bentō and hot, freshly made soup.
COMMUNITY / Issues / LABOR PAINS
Jun 18, 2013
Why workers can no longer wear their demands on their sleeves
Dear reader, where are you from? To what era do you belong? I was born in 1971 in Japan and grew up here, too, but I've never — in all my years visiting hotels, restaurants, shops or government offices — seen workers wearing vests, armbands, badges, ribbons or bandanas with political messages. I've never seen a waiter with an armband reading "We demand wage hikes."

Longform

Historically, kabuki was considered the entertainment of the merchant and peasant classes, a far cry from how it is regarded today.
For Japan's oldest kabuki theater, the show must go on