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2008 OECD Economic Surveys: Japan 2008

image of OECD Economic Surveys: Japan 2008

This 2008 edition of OECD's periodic survey of the Japanese economy finds Japan experiencing the longest expansion in its post-war history.  Moving forward, this survey examines some of Japan's key challenges including bringing an end to deflation, achieving progress on fiscal consolidation, reforming the tax system, enhancing the productivity of the services sector, and coping with population ageing dualism.

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Reforming the labour market to cope with increasing dualism and population ageing

The proportion of non-regular workers has risen to one-third of total employment. While non-regular employment provides flexibility and cost reductions for firms, it also creates equity and efficiency concerns. A comprehensive approach that includes relaxing the high degree of employment protection for regular workers and expanding the coverage of non-regular workers by the social security system would help to reverse dualism. Given that non-regular workers receive less firm-based training, it is necessary to expand training outside of firms to support Japan’s growth potential, while enhancing the employment prospects of non-regular workers. Reversing the upward trend in non-regular employment may also encourage greater female labour force participation, which is essential given rapid population ageing that is already reducing Japan’s working-age population by almost 1% each year. Expanding childcare facilities and paying more attention to work-life balance would also boost female employment, while also raising Japan’s exceptionally low birth rate.

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