Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Japan Labor Protectionism Matrix

Labor protectionism in Japan can be seen to have ran through the whole gamut of essentially two axes of bases and location, as shown in Figure 17 below.

Figure 17:  Japan Labor Protectionism Matrix
 Local jobs were protected from - and conversely, promoted to - non-locals based on either their origin (first based on nationality and then eventually fine-tuned to be based on ethnicity) or work specifications (at first procedural then based on job type).  Labor protectionist policies filtered thru origin and work specifications are plotted in a uni-directional axis (as represented by the unidirectional arrow) called Bases.

The position of each basis on the unidirectional axis indicates the comprehensiveness of the protectionist policy, that is, policies based on origin (Nationality and Ethnicity) are more encompassing and exhaustive in their exclusionary effect as compared to policies based on work specifications (Procedural and Job Type) are more specific and targeted.

These varying bases of labor protectionist tactics were implemented at different levels.  Foreigners already in Japan faced job restrictions enforced only at the prefectural level (Local) or across the country (National).  The Location (or Level) axis is also unidirectional in that protectionist policies aimed at reducing the volume of entry of foreigners (or at the Border level) were/are much more efficient and encompassing  than exacting compliance from foreigners already inside the country.  Japan also implemented "reverse" protectionist policies, that is, those which sought to guard the interests of Japanese emigrant workers (Overseas level).

As we see in Figure 17 Japan implemented labor protectionist practices that have spanned the end-to-end of the two axes of Bases and Location.  During the period of unrestricted entry - the years prior to 1918 (see no. 5) - Japan first began with blanket yet local restrictions based on nationality alone (no. 1) then swung to the opposite pole, with nationwide discrimmination based on specific jobs (no. 2).  Restrictions then moved up to an earlier phase - before entry of foreigners - thus effecting protectionism in one fell swoop (nos. 5, 6).  Post WWII then witnessed a reset of sorts in the Japanese learning curve on protectionism, their strategies regressing back to those based on nationality or ethnicity (nos. 7, 8) before settling back to more focused policies based on job type (nos. 9 onwards).
While both axes plot protectionist policies that can be seen to be unidirectional in terms of impact, this didn't seem to determine the sequencing or progression of implementation of these policies.  Put another way, protectionist policies impacting foreign workers were implemented based mainly on a utilitarian perspective, that is, all-inclusive policies take precedence over targeted policies if called for by the times.


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