Anyone hoping to understand the fundamentals of Japanese employment law could do worse than to read employment law expert Keiichiro Hamaguchi’s 2021 book “What is a ‘Job-type’ Employment Society?” (Jobu-gata koyō shakai to wa nani ka) or his 2009 book “The New Labor Society — Rebuilding the Employment System” (Atarashii rōdō shakai — koyō shisutemu no sai kōchiku e).

While the more recent book revisits many themes discussed in the earlier one, it is more critical to understanding how — and if — recently announced initiatives such as “equal pay for equal work” and “job-based” employment can actually be implemented in Japan. Since neither book is available in English, this review summarizes some of the key points.

The most important point is that regular employment in Japan is family-based.