It will be the second such attempt by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe over the course of eight years if the government tables legislation prepared by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry to lift work-hour regulations on certain high-income corporate workers. The government says the plan — a part of Abe’s push for deregulation of labor rules as obstacles to improving the competitiveness of Japanese businesses — will give the employees flexible ways of work by paying them on the basis of their job performance rather than the hours they spend in office. But opponents of the move assert that such deregulation would only exacerbate the chronic problem of long working hours for many corporate workers.

The labor standard law sets the limit on employees’ work hours at eight hours a day and 40 hours a week, and requires employers to pay extra at increased rates when their employees work beyond the limit. Under the plan to revise the law, being drafted by the ministry for the current Diet session, workers who earn more than ¥10.75 million a year and engage in highly specialized categories of jobs can be excluded from the work-hour limits.

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