Japan Academy of Labor and Management
Overview

1. General Description
The Japan Academy of Labor and Management (JALM) was established by Susumu KAIDO (the first president of JALM, emeritus professor of Kobe University), Shin-ichiro KIMOTO (the second president, emeritus professor of Meiji University), Hiroshi HASEGAWA (emeritus professor of Chuo University), Hiromu SHIMA (the third president, emeritus professor of Doshisya University) and 12 other scholars on May 10, 1991, at the Surugadai Memorial Hall of Chuo University. As of the end of June 2004 there were 278 individual members.

 

The mission of this Academy is to develop academic and theoretical research of labor and management issues together with practical research. Our guiding motto is; “A critical attitude, the prime mover of academic development, is the soul of the Academy” (S.Kaido, the Bulletin of JALM, No.1, 1991) and it is this ‘critical attitude’ that defines our tradition and common unique identity.
Past Presidents are as follows;

1991-1994  Susumu KAIDO (Nara-Sangyou Univ.)
1994-1997 Sin-Ichiro KIMOTO (Meiji Univ.)
1997-2000 Hiromu SHIMA (Doshisya Univ.)
2000-2003 Masaki HAYASHI (Chuo Univ.)
2003-2006 Nobuo MORIKAWA (Hiroshima-Syudo Univ.)
2006-2009 Ken'ichi KURODA (Meiji Univ.)

2009-2012 Tsunenori YASUI (Han-nan Univ.)

2012-2012 Miki SAWADA (Kanazawa Univ.)*Acting president

2013- 2015 Yoritoshi NAGAI (Ehime Univ.)

2015-2018 Masatsugu TAKEDA (Chukyo Univ.)

2018- Rei SEIYAMA (Saitama Univ.)

2. Annual Conferences and Themes
Since its establishment an annual academic conference has been held every summer. The main themes, the host universities are as follows;

1st Conference, May 10-11, 1991;
Held at Chuo University, its main theme was “Issues of Employment and Human Resources in the Japanese Management System.”

2nd Conference, May 8-9, 1992;
Held at Meijo University, its main theme was “Internationalization and Contemporary Issues of Human Resources.”

3rd Conference, May 29-30, dates), 1993;
Held at Sapporo University, its main theme was “Japanese-type Corporate Society and Human Resource Management”.

4th Conference, May 20-21, 1994;
Held at Kansai University, its main theme was “Mobilization of Labor Market and Human Resource Management.”

5th Conference, May 19-20, 1995;
Held at Meiji University, its main theme was “Human Resource Management of White Collar Employees.”

6th Conference, May 25-26, 1996;
Held at Kwansei Gakuin University, its main theme was “Change of Japanese Management and Human Resource Management.”

7th Conference, May 24-25, 1997;
Held at Komazawa University, its main theme was “Deregulation and Human Resources”

8th Conference, May 29-31, 1998;
Held at Doshisya University, its main theme was “Changes in Employment Form in Japan”

9th Conference, June 25-27, 1999;
Held at Tokyo University of Agriculture at Abashiri, its main theme was “Regional Economy and Employment”

10th Conference, June 9-11, 2000;
Held at School of Commerce, Nihon University, its main theme was “Changes in Employment and Labor Issues under the Mega-Competition”

11th Conference, June 8-10, 2001;
Held at Ritsumeikan University at Biwako-kusatsu, its main theme was “ IT Revolution and Human Resource”

12th Conference, June 7-9, 2002;
Held at Iwate University, its main theme was “Some Problems on Employment in Recent Years”

13th Conference, June 13-15, 2003;
Held at Hiroshima-Syudo University, its main theme was “The Transformation of Personnel and Employment System, and Industrial Relations”

14th Conference, July 16-18, 2004;
Held at Kyushu University, its main theme was “New Issues in Labor and Management”

15th Conference, June 10-12, 2005;
Held at Sakushin-Gakuin University, its main theme was “Crisis of Manufacturing and Current Vocational Training”

16th Conference, June 9-11, 2006;
Held at Chukyo University, its main theme was “Developments after the Recommendation of ‘ New Japanese Management ’ ”

17th Conference, May 11-13, 2007;
Held at Meiji University, its main theme was “International Comparisons of Corporate Social Responsibility and Labor ”

 

18th Conference, June 13-15, 2008;
Held at Kanazawa University, its main theme was “Labor Management in Five Advanced Countries Today”

*For main presenters’ names and their speech titles in each annual conference, see Table 1-18.

3. The Present State of Japanese Human Resource Management and Recent Research Activities
The Japanese business environment has drastically changed since the 1990’s. Two far-reaching changes have impacted not only Japanese industry but also the rest of the world.
The first change is the information technology revolution (or networking of information technology) in the workplace. IT opened the giving and receiving information to all, and so created new and various needs from customers.: One main result was that the mass production system is no longer efficient and has become old-fashioned(Syoji Akino, 2002). At the same time, IT also has changed the labor process. On the one hand, it needs a new type of workers who are so-called ‘symbolic analysts’, and who can analyze, decode, interpret and reform information. On the other hand a lot of operators who input information into computers engage in just simple, fragmentary and uninteresting work. Thus the IT revolution has split workers into two groups, i.e., a “sophisticated” skilled group and the other large group of ordinary low-skilled workers (Minoru Fujita, 2002).
The second change taking place is globalization. Restructuring and deregulation policies, which are based upon the neo-liberalism theory, cause severe competition in the market, so-called Mega-Competition. Under these conditions, reducing costs as much as possible is absolutely necessary (Ken-ichi Kuroda 2000, Younosuke Ogoshi, 2004).

Facing these momentous changes, many Japanese employers have changed their policy of human resource management, a policy which greatly contributed to the rapid growth of the Japanese economy since the 1960’s.
Firstly, many regular workers were “restructured”, and this serious activity by management caused the collapse Japanese of the traditional employment practice (the well-known so-called lifetime employment system). In 1985, Japan Business Federation (Keidanren, former Japan Federation of Employers’ Association = Nikkeiren) officially published “New Japanese Management for Future Society” in which they recommended a portfolio of employment, i.e. diversity of employment. According to recent labor markets, workers are divided into a few regular workers and a main body of non-regular workers. The latter group consists of part-time workers, temporary workers and other contingent workers (Younosuke Ogoshi, 2004).

The second change concerning HRM is the pay system. It is well known that Japanese workers are paid in accordance with age or length-of-service, the so-called Nenko (Japanese seniority) wage system. Though this is not true of all companies, certainly we can find this tendency among regular male workers (Japanese “salary men”) in large companies. But it does not mean that wage levels depend on just one’s age or length-of-service. The fact is that Japanese companies employ many new graduates who are un-skilled when they enter, and then train them within the company. Under these circumstances, if wage levels are decided in accordance with the level of one’s skill or one’s competency as measured by appraisal, they seem apparently to be accompanied by age or length-of-service. This pay system is called Japanese skill or competency based pay (Syokunou-kyu). But these relationships between age (or length-of-service) and skill (or competency) have collapsed, because of the IT revolution and globalization. On the one hand, new skills and new competencies needed by companies do not increase in proportion to age or length-of-service, and on the other hand the principle of Japanese skill or competency based pay tends to raise pay levels. And so many companies have introduced a new pay system, which is a performance-based or result-based pay system (Seikasyugi). But these do not necessarily work successfully as shown in the failed case of Fujitsu Company (Takashi Moriya, 2004, Hiromu Shima, 2005, Takao Nagai, 2005).

The third change in the Japanese business environment is the system of working hours. Because of the IT revolution and globalization, the conventional work pattern of working normally 9 to 5 is not capable of dealing with the new business reality, and is not rational for R&D engineers’ job. In briefly, it has been said that management by a fixed hour system does not fit the current business environment. The working hour system has changed from the old rigid pattern to new more flexible patterns, for example de facto working hours system, flexible working hours, variable working hours system, discretionary work, and so on. This shift is encouraged by the deregulation of labor law. While these new working hour arrangements contribute to reducing wage costs and improving labor productivity, we must point out that they can have a bad influence upon workers’ health.
Lastly, as the factors related to HRM have changed, the basic HRM system has also changed. In 1969, when the Japanese economy began to expand into the competitive international market, the JBF (former JFEA) proposed a new personnel management system, which it called “competency-based personnel management”(CPM). Since that time, it has been adopted as the basic and total management policy of Japanese HRM. The CPM has been formed into a concrete shape within the Personnel Ranking System based on Competence (PRSC, Syokunou-shikaku-seido), which is a unique total treatment system applied to all fields and to the full range of employment conditions from job assignment, education and training, promotion and pay raises to the end of workers’ contracts and retirement. But as a result of the IT revolution and globalization, the CPM and PRSC do not seem to work efficiently, as seen in the case of the pay system. Because there are many new varieties of jobs created, workers who work hard with discipline, positive attitude, responsibility and cooperation can not always achieve good performance. Therefore management and their consultants claim strongly that it needs to evaluate workers not according to their capability, effort and so on, but according to result or/and concrete performance. Now we can find that many management and HR managers are attempting to reform PRSC by using the concept of American competency, but it has not been particularly successful, as in the case of the pay system.

 

4. Conclusion and Future Challenges
As mentioned above, CPM and PRSC are the core HRM systems which have contributed to high productivity and good performance in Japan. This thesis is our common perception. Using these systems, Japanese employers can flexibly treat employees just as they wish unless unions decide to resist them.
Due to limited space, which necessitates abbreviating, we have another common perception, which is a characteristic feature of Japanese industrial relations. Militant, strong class-consciousness and radical unions had been removed from Japanese private companies and the workplace before the JFEA proposed the CPM. The JFEA emphasized the removal of hostile leftist unions and fostered cooperative unions. As a result, Japanese unions abandoned job control power, developed a cozy relationship with management, were soaked in the so-called “company-first principle”, and developed to be cooperative enterprise-based unions.
But recently, CPM (and/or PRSC) is not working well, and employers put emphasis on individual rather than on collective IR. In addition to this, enterprise-based unions have been weakening.

If a performance based HRM system is introduced to a non-unionized workplace, it is apparent that the workers’ situation will be worsened, which is undesirable. Serious problems related to HRM are widespread, for example: unemployment, contingent workers and so-called NEET(= Not in Employment, Education or Training), pay systems which are performance based using MBO ( management by objective), working hours, elderly and women workers and so on. Thus we have a lot of challenges which need to be researched from the workers’ viewpoint. This comprises our significant social responsibility.