Light from a Dead Sun: The Japanese Lifetime Employment System and Weimar Labor Law
Comparative Labor Law and Policy,19:101, 1997
79 Pages Posted: 2 Mar 2016
Date Written: 1997
This study explores the Japanese adaptive appropriation of Weimar labor law theory as a prime factor in institutionalizing the employment practices that culminate in the system of lifetime employment. Historically, the study uncovers connections between Izutaro Suehiro, "the father of Japanese labor law," and the most innovative current in Weimar labor law, represented by Hugo Sinzheimer, and it shows the formative importance of Suehiro’s jurisprudence in subsequent labor law. It is argued, first, that labor law figures prominently in the constitution of Japanese employment practices; second, that Japanese industrial relations practices are best understood through a genealogical approach that gives full weight to the adaptive appropriation of Weimar labor law concepts and methods; and, third, that the lifetime employment system and related restrictions on dismissals are a function not only of judicial activism but also of advocacy lawyering and institutionalized encounters between employers and employees. The interrelationship of legal and non-legal elements is comprehended by a social theory of labor law, epitomized in a concept of the labor regime as the product of a constitutional political process involving employers, workers, and the courts. Interdisciplinary in design and intention, the study offers a new understanding of a complex of factors that continues to influence the dynamics of Japanese management.
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