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2003

University of Michigan Law School

Law and Economics

Labor and Employment Law

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Employment Market Institutions And Japanese Working Hours, Mark West Dec 2003

Employment Market Institutions And Japanese Working Hours, Mark West

Law & Economics Working Papers Archive: 2003-2009

Why do Japanese workers work such long hours? Beginning with a series of cases in the 1950s, Japanese courts drastically curtailed firms’ abilities to dismiss workers. As a consequence of the inability to dismiss workers legally, large Japanese firms hired a smaller number of workers than were necessary to fulfill capacity without overtime. Employers rely on the working hours of this undersized cadre of workers, carefully screened to rule out the slothful, as a buffer. In bad times, the size of the work force makes dismissal unnecessary. In good times, workers are forced to work long hours. While these court ...