chapter  2
6 Pages

,ll4 hours a year. This is about 200 hours

longer than the average American or English worker in that year, and 400 hours longer than the average worker in West Germany and France. Owing to interna- tional criticism that Japanese workers are overworked, the Japanese government has tried over a five-year period to reduce the total annual working hours per worker to 2,000 hours by promoting two-day weekends and more holidays and

On the other side of the coin, management in many Japanese companies quite openly discouraged women employees from continuing to work after marriage. In many ways they communicated their ideology that a woman's main responsibility lies in the home, caring for her family. One reason for taking this position is obvious. Women cannot be exploited as much as their male counterparts. Until April 1986 the protective Labor Standards Law had "protected" women employees from engaging in certain jobs, such as late night work. There are also, of course, maternity leaves and other related provisions. By highlighting the utmost importance of the mother's role, the model of segregated gender roles has furnished Japanese companies with an excellent ideology to justify their discouraging women from remaining in the labor force as full-time employees after marriage and particularly after childbirth. This very model has at the same time facilitated the exploitation of married women as part-time employees. Part-time employees receive low pay, little job security, and none of the regular promotions or benefits that full-time regular employees may enjoy in a Japanese company. Nevertheless, such employment allows a woman to earn her own income and to carry out the prescribed role satisfactorily. In this way. Japanese companies have not only avoided dealing with the problems associated with maternity leave, nursing hours, and child-care arrangements of the average working woman, but they have also profited from hiring married women as a part-time labor force that can be used as a buffer to adjust personnel levels as changing economic circumstances may require.29