Business

METI asks Japan's convenience store chains to present plans for coping with labor shortage

Kyodo

The industry minister on Friday urged operators of Japan’s eight major convenience store chains to formulate action plans to address severe labor shortages, which have been placing a burden on franchise store owners and straining the industry.

During the meeting with heads of the convenience store operators, Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko said the labor shortage issue is causing growing discontent among franchisees, who face long working hours due to the chains’ 24-hour operating policies.

The minister also said the aging of store owners makes the situation even worse.

“Please come up with your own proactive measures on the operation of franchises and securing (enough) employees,” Seko said.

Industry leader Seven-Eleven Japan Co. said Thursday it will review its 24-hour operating policy after one of its franchise owners cut the business hours at his store without approval from Seven-Eleven due to a labor shortage.

The operators will formulate improvement measures for addressing the labor shortage and operational efficiency, among other issues, with the aim of submitting their action plans to the government by the end of this month.

The industry ministry plans to launch a panel that will check whether the operators have actually implemented the plans.

According to a preliminary report on the results of a survey conducted on franchise store owners operating under the eight chains, 61 percent of respondents said they do not have enough employees.

“We are taking the situation seriously,” said Isamu Nakayama, chairman of the Japan Franchise Association.

Chiefs of the convenience store operators joining the industry minister at the meeting included Kazuki Furuya, president of Seven-Eleven Japan; Fumihiko Nagamatsu, the vice president of Seven-Eleven Japan, who will replace Furuya next week; Takashi Sawada, president of FamilyMart Co.; and Sadanobu Takemasu, president of Lawson Inc.

GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5