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The glass half full crowd got thrown a bone by a slight downtick in unemployment numbers in Japan this week. To better understand the employment environment in Japan you must factor in the “Haken” – a chronically underemployed class of young people created as the government introduced regulatory changes over the past decade that made it easier for employers to hire through temp agencies and short term contracts.

In 2007, the Ministry of Internal Affairs estimated that there were 3.3 million people aged 25 to 34 working as temps or contract employees – put in context that is over 4% of total working age population (15-64).

As major domestic employers like Toyota start to reduce capacity these workers will be the first to go, and even those lucky enough to stay employed will feel rising inflation faster and harder than the fully employed.

Andrew Barber
Director