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June 29, 2018: The law deemed to be the foundation of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s much-vaunted reform of how we work, or hataraki-kata kaikaku, passed the upper House of Councilors on this day. Most of its provisions, which simply amend other laws, will come into effect next April, so it’s crucial we get a handle on them now.

The media bandy about the phrase “hataraki-kata kaikaku” (often translated as “work-style reform”) as if it will save workers in Japan from the soul-crushing, death-defying work hours of workplaces past. But how will this new law really change the workplace? It’s crucial that we know what’s in it and how things will change from a legal perspective; then perhaps we can ponder what Abe’s objectives are in pushing it through.

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