Impact of shareholder-value pursuit on labor policies at Japanese joint-stock companies: Case of Nikkei Index 400
The Japanese Political Economy
This paper aims at finding out how the shareholder-value pursuit has affected labor policies at large Japanese listed enterprises. It concentrates on the issue of labor bifurcation, whereby the proportion of nonregular employees has grown rapidly over the last two decades, currently approaching the numbers of regular employees. In Japan, corporate governance reforms became key to structural macroeconomic changes according to the 2013 "Japan Revitalization Strategy" formulated by the Cabinet
... by the Cabinet Office. This document mandated the creation of the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 -an index called to accommodate the most investor-friendly joint-stock companies. The move towards a shareholder model has been further reinforced through a rapid surge in foreign stockholding that started during the post-bubble period of the mid-1990s. At the same time, the externalities of increased returns to stockholders have been the changes in the related domains of management and labor, which I explain through the application of the political economic theory. This theory underlines the importance of inclusion into a "political bloc" for being eligible for economic benefits. Consequently, I argue that increased returns to politically privileged shareholders have been achieved at the expense of a growing proportion of unprivileged nonregular employees. The evidence yields support to the argument about the positive correlation between shareholder value and the proportion of nonregulars. On the other hand, foreign stockholding does not appear to be significantly correlated with the increase in nonregular employment. In turn, the study has found that the proportion of nonregular employees is significantly correlated with domestic ownership that characterizes higher managerial entrenchment.