7月度月例報告   サークルE-News & Songs       July 11, 2019


Agenda: Employment Ice Age Generation          Kazuo Miura –Leader


Part I: Singing Session Of English Songs


Before the start of discussion session, we enjoyed singing oldies tunes in English at a nearby Karaoke Bar which is practiced once per every three months as a kind of fun-filled day.  The participants sang their favorite songs paying attention to the pronunciation as well as expressive power.  It was also a good opportunity for us to understand profound meaning of the lyrics accurately.  Kazuo Sato –Facilitator (MC) provided us with recommended oldies songs more than ten tunes together with the relevant lyrics and website information.


Part II: Discussion Session About Initial Agenda


As the agenda for discussion session, we picked up an editorial titled “Employment ice age generation needs support” from the Japan Times’ dated June 6 being inspired by the news that the Japanese government and the ruling parties finally laid out its policy directions called “The Basic Policies of Economic and Fiscal Management and Structural Reform 2019 (Japanese signage is HONEBUTO HOUSHIN 2019 Large Boned Policies), wherein they declared to bail out the employment ice age generations for the first time ever.  It is virtually to respond to log-standing request from the opposition parties. One of the participants pointed out that one of the motivations of the government for its decision on the rescue plan for the ice age generations was obviously driven by OEDC’s recommendation. OECD had ardently suggested the Japanese government in 2006 and in 2008 to transform ongoing bipolarization of the labor market in order to improve the income distribution inequality.


Employment ice age generation (alias name –“lost generation in Japan”) generally means graduates from high school or university from around 1993 to around 2004 when it was extremely hard for them to find regular full-time jobs as businesses mostly cut back on hiring following the collapse of the economic bubble boom and the subsequent financial industry crisis.  Population of the ice age generation in Japan is 20 million, viz. 20% of the population and 30% of all fulltime workers here in Japan. They are real mid-career people and very important people for our country. Today’s discussion has been focused on the 20% people (4 million) who are not full-time workers yet.


We discussed the following points:


Review about the contents of countermeasures specified by the government for rescuing the people, and our analysis and observation


What are the primary causes of the existing circumstance?


Will employment of ice age generations raise any subsequent social issue?


What would be the most effective countermeasure to solve the foregoing issues viewing from your wider perspective? Or, what does Japan have to administer to enhance her social service performance to cope with the critical issue?




Review about the content of the countermeasure announced by the government for rescuing the people as well as our own analysis and observation:


We read through the cornerstone relevant to this theme of the text “HONEBUTO HOSHIN 2019”.  Basic countermeasures are elaborately explained but they are almost same as the present action plan being applied for part time workers and to those who are still not on contract of regular basis. As the countermeasure explains, the government skillfully implies that the objective of the measures is focused on increase of fulltime workers in the industry of logistics, transportation and construction which currently suffer shortage of labor. We wonder whether the government really supports the generation. Recurrent educational support for the generation is prepared but the contents are mostly business basics including computer operation, education and training for operation of sophisticated machine tools and relevant programming, etc. and yet the length of the education is too short. Monetary assistance for companies who employ the laborers on full-time basis is also provided but not well utilized because of small amount per capita and of the government’s poor campaign. It is true that various and elaborately prepared countermeasures are offered but we wonder if they really work to bail them out.




What are the primary causes of the existing circumstance?


  1. Japan’s traditional uniform employment system and/or custom of simultaneous recruiting of new graduates must be a substantial cause in the light of personnel management system. The new graduates, if failed to be hired on the graduation year, got no chance to apply for fulltime work in the following year under the current employment system.

  2. A lifetime employment system and seniority-based wage and promotion system in Japan have also made the companies feel negative to hire mid-careers, much less those with no career as permanent staff.

    Japanese businesses and institutions do not want new staff with single labor experience over a lengthy period. It is a complex subject for the companies to hire aged mid- career with single or simple labor experience as managers or even as staff for their organizational system.

  3. Companies and institutions are reluctant to employ the ice age generation as mid-career because they may disturb companies’ culture or may not be able to fit in the organizations. Especially, listed companies are reluctant except those in three referenced in the government’s HONEBUTO Policy 2019.

  4. Worker Dispatch Law was amended and simple labor temporary staff at production sites were allowed back at that time. This amendatory law has accelerated the companies to hire many more temporary workers in place of fulltime workers. Total number of fulltime workers and staff here in Japan during 19892017 was 35 million (kept no fluctuation in number) but temporary staff increased from 8.1 million to 20.3 million in spite of economic expansion during the period.

  5. Japanese companies increasingly became wary of how to keep themselves safe after the bubble broke out. They have rushed to increase their internal reserves and it is estimated that total amount of internal reserves of the listed enterprises reached 480 trillion yen.  In those three decades since 1990, average of starting salary has stayed about same level. Average wage in general has little increased. The companies’ behaviors of self-protection have accelerated the increase of the number of non-regular workers.




Will employment of ice age generations raise any subsequent social issue?


  1. The most serious problem is huge burden of social welfare budget in near future. The said generation people are less salaried, have little or no bonus and retirement allowance, and can not afford to pay pension funds.  Livelihood subsidies will be inevitable for them as they get old. It is estimated that twenty trillion yen is necessary for them. This is a time bomb for national budget of Japan. More serious problem is the fact that not only the unchancy generations but also successive generations have got same problems as the ice age generations’. It means that another social class named “Under Privileged Class” may appear beside the current social class in Japan.

  2. Many of them continued to keep unstable jobs for years, some were thrown out of work and not a few of them have become recluses (HIKIKOMORI). It is estimated that now there are one million recluses in all ages here in Japan.

  3. Their poverty resulted in the nation’s low fertility rate because many people with unstable jobs and low income hesitated to get married and have a child.

  4. Many lonesome aged men and women who have no support or care from counterparts or relatives will rise further. It may trigger various social issues and incur security problems from here on.




What would be the most effective countermeasure to solve the foregoing issues viewing from your wider perspective? Or, what does Japan have to administer to enhance her social service performance to cope with the critical issue?


It is too broad range of question for us to answer. So, we spent little time to discuss. However, one of the circle members tried to summarize it as follows.  Items marked * and ** were added objectively through the debating.




  1. Countermeasures for fertility decline

  2. Stable growth of the economy

  3. Deregulation

  4. Rebuilding of social security system

  5. *Investment for recurrent education for the generation (*details per last page)

  6. **Change of the government’s major officials from Tokyo University graduates to graduates of various other universities (both national and private)


Private Sector:


  1. Creation of new market demand to lead expansion of consumption

  2. Increase in labor distribution ratio with higher wage and salary

  3. Thorough review and change of employment and wage incremental削除


  4. Active investment for digital transformation (DX) domain including utilization of AI, IOT, big data processing

  5. Enhancement and investment for improvement of productivity by means of advanced management system and recurrent education system for employees




Increase domestic consumption, especially expansion of consumption by aged people (Reportedly their total savings is estimated as 1,840 trillion yen)


 (*) To help the said generation, not only ongoing education and training system but strategic special education system should be provided by the government. I.E. Recurrent education such as programming, IT and automation operation, knowhow of social services for foreigners both in English and Japanese, knowhow of start-up of new business (Bootstrapping) are urgent needs. In Germany, 600 Hours German Language Free Lessons are provided for foreign refugees and immigrants by German Government. Similar level of counterplans and programs are vital for the employment ice generations so as to enable them to get higher wages because commercial users in Japan are very strong and higher wages being paid for such works and services as advocated above are worth and significant.






We have applied Master of Ceremony system since last month in order to activate Discussion Sessions.  Kazuo Sato, Representative of our Circle accepted to undertake permanent role of moderator except special cases when he is designated as one of the leaders. By this change a monthly leader can concentrate to lead the meeting without caring delicate flow of debating. The new system makes it easier to undertake role of leadership of the month so that all participants can speak out their opinions comfortably under equal time sharing. Leader of the month is entitled previously to select a theme (topic) to discuss and set up points for Q and A, thus he or she can lead the direction of discussion effectively. In this manner, we enjoy the session at home.


Thank you.