The debate on deregulation of working hours was first brought up by business leaders as the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) believes that some employees work for long hours but do not perform well. Toray Industries Chairman Sadayuki Sakakibara, who will assume the next Keidanren chairman role, told a joint meeting with the Industrial Competitive Council and other parties on April 22 that reforms are necessary for Japanese companies to secure and promote their competitiveness in the global market.
Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroshige Seko commented on the matter during a TV program recorded on May 28, saying that if labor deregulation does not progress, foreign companies would not open businesses in Japan.
While the labor ministry emphasizes that the reform plans target a very limited number of workers, labor unions suspect that the targets will expand as the labor law concerning dispatched workers has been deregulated since it came into force in 1986.
Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo) President Nobuaki Koga slammed the new pay system, saying that it would allow companies not to pay for overtime work. In fiscal 2012, labor standards inspection offices ordered 1,277 companies to address cases of unpaid overtime, in which the estimated payment totaled roughly 10.4 billion yen. Labor unions are concerned that the new pay system will impose long working hours on employees. A senior Rengo official pointed out that changing a corporate culture that lacks moral standards should be prioritized before pushing for deregulation.