Reform without Change - A Sociological Analysis of Employment Legislation and Dispute Processing in Japan

  • Fabiana Marinaro

Student thesis: Phd


This thesis sheds new light on the study of law in Japan by exploring legislative interventions and dispute resolution processes in the Japanese field of employment. The academic literature about the legal system of Japan has produced valuable research about various areas of Japanese law, from attempts at explaining patterns of rights assertion in the country to more recent studies about the legal reforms launched by the government of Japan starting from the 2000s. However, it has rarely considered the employment field as a fruitful subject for research. Nonetheless, in the past thirty years, employment has been one of the areas of Japanese law to experience considerable reform. Against the backdrop of the changes in the composition of the Japanese workforce and the bursting of the economic bubble of the beginning of the 1990s, the government of Japan assumed a more prominent role in the regulation of employment relations. In light of these developments, this thesis contributes to the debate on the role of law in Japan by examining this rarely investigated area of the Japanese legal system. Specifically, it focuses on the legislative interventions of the Japanese government to regulate the peripheral workforce of the labour market, namely women and part-time workers, and procedures for the resolution of employment disputes. In doing so, it demonstrates that the efforts of the legislators to enhance the creation of a more inclusive labour market have been fundamentally constrained by ideological and institutional factors, and resulted in an uneven distribution of legal resources among workers which exacerbated existing employment status divisions. This, in turn, has translated into unequal access to justice, affecting the extent to which different categories of workers can obtain redress through the legal apparatus.
Date of Award1 Aug 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorPeter Cave (Supervisor) & Arjan Keizer (Supervisor)


  • Japanese law, atypical employment in Japan, dispute resolution in Japan, ADR, interpretive sociology

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