Does Japan Have a Gig Economy? PART 1
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Does Japan Have a Gig Economy? PART 1

Does Japan Have a Gig Economy? PART 1

The digital economy has had a profound impact on what has been labelled the ‘gig’ economy.  Supposedly borrowed from the musician’s word for a paid musical job – think appearing at the local pub – an increasing number of people are taking short term paid employment.

Accelerated by cloud based solutions which match “tasks” with “people having the requisite talent”, the gig economy is having a significant impact on the traditional labor market as well as developing the nature of what ‘work’ looks like.

But with Japan’s historically rigid “life time employment system” born out of necessity in the post Second World War period to secure labour, is the gig economy a feature that can be seen in Japan too?

There are a number of terms that are used to describe the mechanism which is accelerating the gig economy.  “Crowdsourcing” is a term that is used too. Crowdsourcing had its genesis in the open source software movement which saw people collaborating over the internet platform bringing “like-minded” people with “common interests” together. Their geographical location was immaterial.

The Gig Economy in Japan.

Although the data is rather limited and fragmented compared with other countries, the gig economy in Japan appears to be somewhat small.

Part of the reason could be that the previous labour laws had some restrictions on simultaneous employment.  Part of Prime Minister Abe’s “three arrows” policy to revitalise the Japanese economy has been to institute some labour reforms. In January 2018, the Japanese Government revised the recommended work rules guidelines. They removed the clause “as a general rule, the employees are not allowed to take on another job without permission” and revised it to, “As a general rule, employees should be allowed to take on side work to supplement their primary job”. In addition to this revision, the Government newly created a guideline on promotion of “side work”. It is viewed that this change is going to help increase the number of crowdworkers.

55% of millennial responders in Japan
 are already taking on or would consider taking on short-term contracts or freelance work to supplement their primary job.

This compares with 78% recorded for world wide responses to the survey.
Deloitte, 2018

Crowdsourcing companies in Japan

Two Japanese companies prominent  in the crowdsourcing field are CrowdWorks Inc and Lancers.

These companies are being utilized by crowdworkers and freelancers, as well as employers, who look to fill temporary positions.

Japan’s authoritative business paper, Nikkei reported major corporations such as Toyota, NTT also use this system for recruitment.

…to be continued in the next JBA.