The prevalence of the employment custom of saiyō naitei (tentative job offers) may well be peculiar to Japan. As I touched upon in my March 27, 2012, column, university juniors and seniors skip class to attend work seminars, company orientations, internships and, finally, a series of tests and interviews with prospective employers.

Universities wholeheartedly approve of this shūkatsu job-hunting mania and are therefore quite lenient about attendance, assignments and other mere scholastic responsibilities. If things go well, seniors find themselves the lucky recipients of a saiyō naitei — an early promise of employment to begin the first April after graduation.

But what does the law say about students who receive this saiyō naitei promise of employment only to have it canceled before the job actually begins? It's not technically a dismissal but rather a naitei torikeshi — a canceling of the job promise. The Supreme Court on July 20, 1979, recognized naitei as a binding contract that could be canceled only if the employer's situation had changed and there was rational, objective and sufficient reason for the decision based on social norms. Japan's highest court ruled against Dai Nippon Printing, making clear that naitei was not something that could be canceled easily.