Bicycle to Japan


In recent years, there has been an increasing pressure on many international companies to implement health and safety laws, union and pay system in Japan. As corporate globalization continues to afford companies headquartered in certain countries the ability to conduct business in other jurisdictions, the international company is beginning to recognize the importance of ensuring that corporations understand the laws and standards, which they must comply if they wish to open a manufacturing facility in other countries.
Japan and most Asian countries, in contrast to Western countries, are described as high-context culture where human relations are valued (Hall, 1976). This implies that human relations might be especially important in an Asian setting. As our company is planning to open a medium-size manufacturing bicycle in Nagoya which was well known for being conservative, but now being both an industrial powerhouse and a comparatively agreeable and open city, my research through the World Wide Web will focus on the occupational health and safety, union, and pay system in Japan that help manager and supervisor make consistent and reliable decisions. On the other hand, it helps give each employee a clear understanding as to what they expect and allow. It takes some effort to complete, but brings definite long??“term benefits, reduces disputes, and adds to the professionalism of our business.



In between the Tokyo-Osaka rivalry is Nagoya, coined the biggest ???country town??? in Japan for its small town mentality, making it reputedly the hardest city in Japan to do business in because of its conservative mindset. With the population of over 2.2 million, Nagoya has the greatest concentration of manufacturing industries in Japan. However, the business style of person from Nagoya is slow and conservative as they are much more aggressive. You often hear people say that if you can do business in Nagoya, you can do business anywhere in Japan, and I believe this is very true.??? ( On the other hand, human-relation type of managements preferred by the Japanese is based on face-to-face physical contact within groups, and with individuals in other groups with whom they have established relations.
From above information about the people from Nagoya, in the process of opening a medium-sized bicycle firm which will have about fewer than 300 employees, the manager of company need to know more detail information about the occupational health and safety, unions and pay systems in Japanese bicycle manufactures which can adapt with Nagoya workers. It is an ideal time to construct a working culture based on the positive aspects of the traditional Japanese working style, such as cooperation among employees, health care staff, and employers. As in any culture, a new working culture that incorporated the old would be more readily accepted.

Occupational health and safety legislation

The history of Japans legislation for labor protection begins in the early twentieth century. The Mines Act of 1905 and the Factories Act of 1911 included some provisions for worker protection. Subsequent legislation in the 1920s and 1930s regulated such factors as minimum age of employment, conditions of factory dormitories, and so on. Major advances in workers social security came with the Employees Health Insurance Act of 1922, and subsequent health insurance legislation for specific groups of workers (Appendix A). Beginning in the late 1930s, however, as Japan went to war, government bureaucrats turned their attention away from social welfare and workers rights and toward “strike prevention, wage controls, labor allocation, and other measures related to military-industrial mobilization.”

Appendix A: Major Japanese Legislation Relevant to Occupational Safety and Health

Appendix from Michael R. Reich, PHD, and Howard Frimkin, MD, MPH; An Overview of Japanese Occupational Health

Japans contemporary labor laws began to emerge immediately after the Second World War. Two key pieces of legislation, both quite progressive in the historical context, were the Trade Union Law of 1945, which guaranteed the rights to organize, bargain collectively, and strike, and the Labor Standards Law of 1947, which set the basic principles of worker protection for both union and nonunion workers (see Appendix A). The other major advance was the new Japanese Constitution of 1947, which stated that workers had a “right to organize, to bargain, and to act collectively” (Ministry of Labor: Labor Union Basic Survey. Tokyo: Ministry of Labor, 1985) and that “[a]ll people shall have the right and obligation to work” (Supreme Court of Japan, General Affairs Bureau, Public Affairs Division,30 October 1987). Few Western countries provide such specific and strong guarantees of workers rights.

Union Activities

The most striking feature of Japanese industrial relations is the dominance of the enterprise (or company) unions, which account for more than 90 per cent of all unions and organized workers in Japan.3 Craft and industrial unions do not figure importantly among Japanese unions or workers. Federations of enterprise unions, however, do play important roles for particular industries, and these federations are joined in turn into four major confederations: Sohyo, Domei, Churitsuroren, and Shinsanbetsu. Sohyo (General Council of Trade Unions of Japan) generally supports the Japanese Socialist party, and Domei (Japanese Confederation of Labor)
is linked to the Democratic Socialist party. Churitsuroren (Federation of Independent Unions of Japan), and Shinsanbetsu (National Federation of Industrial Organizations) tend to remain neutral among political parties. Enterprise unions nonetheless maintain substantial autonomy from the federations in administrative matters and in bargaining.
It is important to note that Japanese unions are primarily postwar phenomena, and all in all have made significant achievements, including general improvements in wages, hours and fringe benefits, institutionalization of employment security measures, enlarged participation of workers in management decision making, formation of countervailing power against the conservative central government, and elevation of the status of workers in the social hierarchy (Shira T, Shimada H: Japan. In: Dunlop J, Galenson W (eds): Labor in the Twentieth Century. New York: Academic Press, 1978).
Payment Systems
A. Principles of wage payment:
Employers must pay wages in legal tender, directly to the employee, not less than once per month, and on a specified date. However, employers are allowed to remit wages into a bank account specified by the employee where the employee agrees to that method of payment, and may also deduct social insurance premiums, taxes and similar expense from wages.
B. Guarantee of minimum wage:
The minimum wage is determined according to region and industry. Where an employee is subject to two different minimums, the employee is entitled to the higher of the two minimum wages. The employer must pay the employee a wage that is not less than the minimum wage. For example, following the latest revision in October 2009, the current minimum wage for Nagoya is 710 yen per hour. This minimum wage rates is considered sufficient to provide a workers and family with a decent standard of living.
C. Wage system:
It is typical for Japanese companies to pay wages on a monthly basis, and to pay employees summer and winter bonuses. One characteristic of Japanese wages is the make-up: monthly wages usually include a basic wage and a range of allowances, which may include accommodation, family and transportation allowances. Another characteristic is that the amount paid in bonuses makes up a relatively high proportion of total wages paid to employees. An effect of the high proportion of wages made up of various allowances and bonuses consequently is to lower the rate of overtime pay paid for work outside normal working hours. The typical wage system in Japan has traditionally been based on seniority, whereby employees wages increase in accordance with the number of years of service at a company. However, recently, an increasing number of businesses are introducing ability-based and duty-based pay systems, and some are even implementing performance-based pay systems where wages are determined according to each employees rate of achievement of set targets. As a result, more and more businesses are adopting a yearly wage system.


One of the under-researched areas of international management is the way in which different cultures handle the occupational health and safety, unions and pay system, and what these implies for multinational management practices. Nevertheless, it is truth that an industry??™s success is determined much by the skills of its workforce. This requires focusing on ways human resource development activities can be used in ensuring the workforce is equipped to successfully meet the challenges. With a strong sense of hierarchy, the company may meet the difficulties in the problems of coordination and control at the bicycle manufacture, so negotiation is the important skill for manager. Depending on above information about the regulations as well as the features of health and safety system, labor union and pay system in Nagoya, the manager can apply traditional Japanese attitudes and patterns of behavior in organizing and managing people in the pursuit of common goal.


Michael R. Reich, PHD, and Howard Frimkin, MD, MPH; An Overview of Japanese Occupational Health

Shira T, Shimada H: Japan. In: Dunlop J, Galenson W (eds): Labor in the Twentieth Century. New York: Academic Press, 1978
Ministry of Labor: Labor Union Basic Survey. Tokyo: Ministry of Labor, 1985
Supreme Court of Japan, General Affairs Bureau, Public Affairs Division,30 October 1987