An Emerging Non-Regular Labour Force in Japan
The Dignity of Dispatched Workers
By Huiyan Fu
Routledge – 2012 – 192 pages
Like many industrialised nations, the current employment trend in Japan centres on diversification of the labour market with an increased use of temporary labour. Among a wide range of non-regular labour arrangements, haken are a newly legalised category of non-regular workers who are typically employed by the employment agency while working at the facilities of and being under the authority of the client firm. They have recently expanded exponentially under the state’s deregulation policy and assumed considerable significance in political debate, especially with regard to the nation’s ‘widening gaps’ known as kakusa.
This is the first anthropological study of haken and temporary agency work (TAW) in Japan which combines both macro- and micro level analyses. At the macro level, haken are explored from a historical perspective with a view to showing the changing state policy and public perception of haken. At the micro level, how TAW is experienced by real people in concrete situations is extremely varied and complex, often depending on intersecting structural variables including gender, age and class. The book therefore provides insight into the gap between powerful discourses and everyday life, as well as a better understanding of personhood in Japan’s shifting landscape of employment.
This book will be of interest to students and scholars of Japanese Studies, Japanese Business, Asian Business and Asian Anthropology.
"This timely and excellent analysis of the changing employment system in Japan greatly improves our understanding of what it is like to be a dispatched worker (haken) in contemporary Japan and discourse about nonregular employment, of which haken is only one of various categories such as temporary, contract, part-time, etc." - Jeff Kingston is director of Asian Studies, Temple University Japan; The Japan Times: Sunday, Nov. 27, 2011
1. Introduction 2. Haken: A New Non-Regular Labour Force and a Booming Industry 3. Working as a Haken in a Triangular Employment Relationship 4. Haken in Historical Perspective 5. Haken in the 'Gap-Widening' Society 6. The Search for Meaningful Work 7. Conclusion: Haken’s ‘Symbolic’ Values
Huiyan Fu is Visiting Professor of International Business at Aalen University, Germany.