Over 3000 Japanese scientists may lose jobs

Universities and institutes are planning to lay off researchers who were hired on fixed-term contracts, taking advantage of a gap in the employment law


Many universities and institutes in Japan are readying to lay off thousands of researchers / scientists before they are able to seek permanent employment, as per a 2013 labour law.

These researchers, most of whom have been contributing to government-funded projects and institutes, were hired on fixed-term contracts. That means, they were considered temporary workers and received lesser pay and benefits compared to permanent employees. This, of course, allows their employers to save a lot in terms of expenses.

As per a 2013 labour law, such contractual or temporary workers had the right to seek permanent jobs on completion of five years. This period was later extended to 10 years. However, now that most of these researchers are about to complete a decade in their projects, instead of absorbing them on the rolls, the organisations they are working for are planning to lay them off. This will help the organisations save a lot of cost, which they would have otherwise spent on offering them permanent roles.

These scientists will have to look for other positions, where they will again start afresh on a fresh fixed-term contract. This is rather unfair considering that most of these researchers have slogged day and night, even putting in extra hours for which they were never compensated.

Most of the organisations and institutes who are planning to lay off their decade old researchers, including Riken — one of the largest Japanese scientific research institutes — are calling this exercise an attempt to stop the workforce from stagnating. They claim that these layoffs will allow newer and younger generations of scientists to be part of the latest projects, and add more value to the country’s research work and capabilities.


  1. Commenting on a practice of another country is easy but how much of this will be accepted is anyone’s guess. Because several factors come into play – culture economy, labour laws, precedents, role of courts to adjudicate matters of this nature.
    As regards the case in question, from my perspective it looks very unjustified and unreasonable. It’s similar to practice in our country wherein many industries employ large chunk of contract labour for production jobs for decades without providing them applicable wages and benefits as per law.
    If this is construed unfair and not legal, moreso engaging people as scientists , a high caliber job and firing them, without doubt, is more unjustified and unfair.

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