Japanese companies are ‘thirsty’ for labor

The Japanese service industry is struggling to recruit and retain employees, amid the biggest contraction in the labor market in decades.

The unemployment rate in Japan in August was at a 23-year low, with 2.8%. This reflects a growing economy and a shrinking working-age population. Earlier this week, a survey by the Central Bank of Japan also found that the proportion of companies complaining about labor shortages had been at the highest since 1992.

Lack of workers can slow growth, even inhibit economic activity, adversely affect the sustainable development of Japan. For example, in the shopping center – Sun Mall in Chiba, a shortage of labor forces many companies to cancel plans to rent locations here. Many other stores were also closed because they could not find a replacement key staff.

Seth Sulkin, President of Pacifica Capital K.K, which owns Sun Mall, said a new spa scheduled to open in the next few months had to postpone the schedule due to a shortage of people.


The aging population is causing a serious labor shortage in Japan. Photo: Reuters

“The number of people looking for part-time jobs is plummeting. I told companies that turning some vacancies into full-time jobs and raising salaries, but they said they couldn’t, ”he said.“ Tokyo is easy to find, but it’s hard now. As for Chiba, it was probably due to a location problem ”.

When the number of employees has reached the limit, companies must find new sources of workers. McDonald’s Japan said it would expand the labor criteria, targeting housewives for part-time positions. So is the convenience store chain FamilyMart.

More than half of housewives here can work, but can’t find the right job, a Job Search Center survey said. They are very concerned about long working days, difficult to match with obligations in the family.

Many companies are also improving working conditions, to retain and attract employees. Doutor Nichires Holdings has applied compensation for part-time employees who lost their jobs. This is a rare move in a country known for a huge disparity between full-time and full-time employees.

Some restaurant chains, such as Royal Holdings and McDonald’s Japan’s, have also retired 24/24. A June Reuters survey also found that more than 80% of participating companies forecast a shortage of workers that will cause them to reduce their service count over the next few years.

In March this year, recruitment firm Fullcast Holdings opened an office targeting people over 60. Nearly 2,000 retired people have signed up, but many companies are unable to recruit them.

“If there is a job that meets their requirements in terms of distance, type and time, many others can do it,” said Fullcast Senior Works Director Yasuhiro Sumi.

Many companies are hesitant to use huge amounts of cash to raise wages. Partly because they are unable to raise product prices when consumers have been accustomed to falling prices for nearly two decades.

However, a number of companies have already started to do this. The restaurant chain Torikizoku this month has increased its prices by 6.4% – for the first time in 28 years. Japan’s largest delivery company, Yamato Holdings, also raised prices by 15% this month – for the first time in nearly three decades.

Yamato has spent billions of yen on salaries for overtime drivers and low wages. They also pledged to hire 10,000 new transportation staff by the end of fiscal 2019, to reduce the pressure of overtime to 55,000 existing drivers. These employees will mainly be recruited from people who already work for the company, but on the form of outside contracts.

Last weekend, the president of the fashion retailer Start Today – Yusaku Maezawa also said he would let buyers choose how much to pay for the shipping service. “If this helps the courier and the consignee sympathize with each other, I feel very good,” he said.

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