Salaryman Today and into Tomorrow
AbstractThe three icons of Japanese-style management-lifetime employment, seniority wages, and in-house unions-appear to be crumbling as Japan faces the end of unrelenting economic growth. The new realities include deregulation, more intense competition, corporate restructuring, rising unemployment, and an aging workforce. This article surveys what these economic and demographic changes mean for the Japanese white collar worker, known as the "salaryman." (Salaried female workers are more often referred to as "office ladies" or "career women.") Some companies are breaking tradition by introducing Western style pay-for-performance systems; others are backing away from the practice of hiring recent graduates for new positions; still others are outsourcing selected functions, very much as American companies have done. All of this creates a degree of uncertainty for the salaryman. Lifetime employment is no longer a given, nor can the worker count on automatic wage increases based on age and length of service. Ironically, Japanese firms still demand unflinching loyalty to the corporation, even though layoffs are now a possibility. These changes are still in their infancy, but they may signal a groundswell of change in the next decade.