Policy Brief: The Labor Relations in Japan and South Korea

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Executive Summary

South Korea and Japan, as Asian countries persisting in close geographical vicinity to each other, are similar in a lot of ways. Their organization, people, cultures, and regulations are specifically unique yet strikingly alike in some aspects. The relationship between the two is strained, mostly due to their shared history together and the actions of the Japanese government. Over here in recent years, though, both Japan and Korea are becoming increasingly more interconnected with the rest of the world, allowing others to better understand the way their society functions and operates on a larger scale. Worker relations and employee benefits are a significant concern for their governments.

To better understand both the strong sides and the weaker parts of their employee protection standards, this policy brief will be attempted. Based on the similarities and differences the countries have, particular recommendations to better improve the prosperity and well-being of their people will be made.


Japan’s Society is commonly known to be very traditional. With legacies of days Long gone being held in good regard. The country favors old-fashioned ways of organization and relationships between people and the hierarchical structures of society stand strong. This reflects in both the general perception the Japanese people have in life and the way in which the workers are treated. Historic clear the country has been using the male breadwinner type of employment in life, where men were primarily employed and women stayed at home taking care of the family. In recent years, however, the cheese situation has changed drastically as more and more women have been entering the job market.

The need to accommodate Both males and females has made significant changes to the way the Japanese legislation and companies organize their work environment. Significant strides have been made to disallow discrimination of women, as well as any type of discrimination based on one’s gender, occupation, lifestyle, religion, or other circumstances of their life (National labor law Profile: Japan 2011). The work standards in the country differ with two major types of employment being used: full-time and part-time. Part-time employees are used to cut costs and provide an employer with a sense of security. Many people, especially women, take part-time jobs as a way to manage both their home life and be able to provide for the family (Frege & Kelly, 2020).

The different types of employment, such as contract work and dispatches, served to further Di regulate the job market. The inability of many people to find a constant source of income and a stable job reflects the stagnation of the job market in Japan, where many people are unable to advance up the career ladder or improve their skills due to the lack of special skills or improvement in part-time work (Frege & Kelly, 2020).

Another important part to note is the relationship between human individuality and the work environment in Japan. In many cases, corporate loyalty is encouraged greatly, and the workers are expected to stay overtime and work for the benefit of their employer. While unionization is not as much of an issue as in the countries such as the US the movement still finds trouble in protecting the rights and representing the will of the workers. It has been noted that the influence of unions has been dropping in recent years. While the work conditions have been deteriorating significantly.

South Korea

Korea has been steadily moving on the road to industrialization for a long time now. In large part due to negative influence from both Japan and China, the country has been unable to fully develop and grow, meaning that it needed a quick push to be able to keep up with the global market of today. South Korea has been able to give itself that push, moving on the road to democratization and better working conditions for all of its people. Historically, employment relationships had been controlled by the government, which employed a policy of interventionism to better develop the industrial part of the nation (Bamber, Lansbury, Wailes, & Wright, 2016).

Collective action was suppressed as cheap Labour And long hours were prioritized to raise the economy to a sufficient standard. Closer to the 1990s, the efforts and the work of unions were finally recognized as the government had softened up on its interventions in the Labour market and allowed the unions to better represent the needs of the people (Bamber, Lansbury, Wailes, & Wright, 2016). The participation in the Union work has fluctuated over the years depending on the financial situation of the country and the policies of the current government, but overall, the situation became much more dialogue-oriented than in the earlier years. The Korean government started to prioritize social dialogue as a way of communicating with workers and management to better understand the needs and desires of the majority.


Based on the information provided, I think the suitable course of action for both countries would be to increase the relevance and the activity of unions in their workplace. Unions are a crucial part of the relationship between an employee and an employer. They are an agent which can guarantee that workers receive sufficient compensation, have the ability for self-fulfillment, development, and actualization, as well as to receive compensation based on their contribution to the work environment.

Historically, unions have developed in different ways in these countries. In Japan, unions typicaly work on a scale of individual organizations and represent a the needs of its workers. These kinds of unions are named Enterprise unions and are comprised of white and blue-collar workers. Most bargaining then takes place at the company level, with set schedules and regulated work stoppages. Due to the unique work culture of Japan, workers most often identify with the company and their supervisors who they built a connection with, not the unions that represent them. This union system is noted to be more “mild” and reserved in its approaches, as its fuction is tightly interconnected with the enterprise itself.

Questions can arise on the matter of its effectiveness at representing the will of the people. In Korea, unions have similarly taken upon themselves to work with corporations directly, concluding bargaining on a company level. Their spectrum of covered issues is wide, and covers many HRM issues, such as firing, diciplinary action, transfers and work organization practices. Barganing also takes place primarily at company level. It is noted by modern scholars, however, that Korean unions have lost much of their influence and bargaining power, making them far less than ideal at securing the rights of the workers. Subsequently, while both countries seem to have been working with unions to a degree in recent years, I think that further embracing their appeal to the masses and the benefits they can provide to the community would be greatly beneficial to a big part of the countries population.


Frege, C. M., & Kelly, J. E. (2020). Comparative employment relations in the global economy. London: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.

Bamber, G., Lansbury, R. D., Wailes, N., & Wright, C. F. (2016). International and comparative employment relations: National regulation, global changes. Los Angeles, CA: SAGE.

National labour law Profile: Japan. (2011). Web.

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"Policy Brief: The Labor Relations in Japan and South Korea." BusinessEssay, 27 Nov. 2022, business-essay.com/policy-brief-the-labor-relations-in-japan-and-south-korea/.


BusinessEssay. (2022) 'Policy Brief: The Labor Relations in Japan and South Korea'. 27 November.


BusinessEssay. 2022. "Policy Brief: The Labor Relations in Japan and South Korea." November 27, 2022. https://business-essay.com/policy-brief-the-labor-relations-in-japan-and-south-korea/.

1. BusinessEssay. "Policy Brief: The Labor Relations in Japan and South Korea." November 27, 2022. https://business-essay.com/policy-brief-the-labor-relations-in-japan-and-south-korea/.


BusinessEssay. "Policy Brief: The Labor Relations in Japan and South Korea." November 27, 2022. https://business-essay.com/policy-brief-the-labor-relations-in-japan-and-south-korea/.