Introduction The rise in non-regular employment stands out as the second major development in Japanese employment practices. In particular, the extent of the rise by more than 10 per cent of all employees in the decade up to 2005 has been remarkable. The rise was confirmed by the case studies as all firms increased the percentage of non-regular employees among their total employment. However, the case studies also illustrated important differences. In a confirmation of the established employment practices in the retail industry, RetailCo showed a much stronger rise in non-regular employment than any of the other firms. At the time of the second study, 80 per cent of its employees were non-regular and their importance inspired important policy changes by the firm’s management and enterprise union. The firms in the other industries, however, were more selective in their increased hiring of non-regular employment. The rise was mostly limited to agency workers for office work and certain specialist positions.