The Situation of Non-regular Public Employees in Local Government in Japan: focus on Gender

Non-regular public employees in the local governments are increasing rapidly in Japan. According to statistics from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIAC) (2012b), there were 603,582 non-regular public employees as of April 1, 2012, compared to 455,840 from their 2005 survey or an increase of 147,742 (32%) over seven years. Out of that more recent figure, 448,742 (74.2%) were women.

In Japan, the principle of equal pay for men and women is enshrined in Article 4 of the Labour Standards Act of 1947 (revised in 2008). However, the wage gap between men and women persists to this day. While direct discrimination in treatment between men and women is the norm, there is also indirect discrimination in which either men or women suffer de facto disadvantages in spite of apparent gender-neutral treatment. Typical examples of such indirect discrimination include different career tracks for management positions (“sougoushoku”) and support and administrative positions (“ippanshoku”), a distinction between male jobs and female jobs, and a gap based on the difference of employment status such as full-time and open-ended regular workers and part-time and fixed-term non-regular workers.