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Kazuhiro Hasegawa has been driving a taxi in Tokyo for three years. It’s a job he enjoys, despite the 18-hour shifts.

But recently, he said, it has not been enough to make ends meet.

The ¥4.5 million to ¥4.8 million a year he makes from his primary job is far short of what he needs to cover a mortgage and university for his son, he said.

“I have no choice but to work two jobs, as my income is unstable,” said Hasegawa, 51, who earns several thousand yen a month from a side job shooting and editing videos for businesses. “There’s no rest. I try to avoid being short of sleep, as that would cause trouble driving a taxi.”

Workers like Hasegawa are signing up for second jobs in record numbers to earn extra cash as wages stagnate, stirring hopes of a rise in consumer spending but adding to fears of overwork.

Facing a labor crunch, many companies welcome the influx of part-time workers. And the government has loosened rules that banned or discouraged employees from taking second jobs.

The result is that a record 7.44 million Japanese will work at least two jobs this year — or about 11 percent of the workforce — up from 5.33 million in 2015, according to Lancers Inc., which helps freelancers find jobs.

The shift here aligns with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s goal of creating a workforce that can adapt to economic changes and offer more individual freedom, which he says will promote growth.

Indeed, people working two jobs will contribute an estimated ¥7.8 trillion to the economy, Lancers data showed.

But there is a dark side. Workers need to put in roughly 11 percent more hours than they did in 1997 to make the same salary. In the meantime, Tokyo’s annual cost of living for an average household is about ¥365,000 a month, government data show, a 6 percent decrease from 1997.

Working two or three jobs to make ends meet undercuts the government’s “work-style reform” efforts, including proposed caps on overtime in response to cases of karōshi (death by overwork).

“It could raise the risk that one person ends up working over 100 hours (of overtime) by assuming 50-hour jobs at two firms,” said Kotaro Kurashige, an attorney of Anzai Law Office, who represents management in labor disputes.

“What the government is trying to do is full of inconsistencies,” he said. “Making up for cuts in overtime pay by assuming side jobs elsewhere is like putting the cart before the horse.”

First published in The Japan Times on June 16.

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Collect words related to work, e.g., office, salary, client.

New words

1) crunch: a situation where there is not enough of something, e.g., “Gas prices are up because of the oil crunch.”

2) influx: a large number of people flowing in, e.g., “There has been an influx of immigrants.”

Guess the headline

Se_ _ _ _ jobs, once rare in Japan, are reshaping attitudes about w_ _ _


1) What percentage of Japanese employees have a second job?

2) Why did the government start encouraging second jobs?

3) What is the risk of having a second job?

Let’s discuss the article

1) Have you ever considered a second job?

2) If you could have one, what would be your ideal second job?





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