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July 28, 2013

[SSJ: 8194] Number of employees at large firms in Japan

From: Peter Cave
Date: 2013/07/28

I would like to ask if anyone can confirm whether I am correctly interepreting the apparently very different data shown by two different Japanese government surveys on the labour force.

First, the Economic Census:
Table 3-6 seems to state that there were about 56 million employees in Japan as a whole in 2012, of which about 8 million (15%) were employed in workplaces
(jigyousho) of 300+, while about 28 million (48%) were employed in workplaces of below 30. Judging by the explanation of terms on pp. 50 ff, I believe that jigyousho 事業所 in table 3-6 refers to a place of business, not a company.

Secondly, the Labour Force Survey:
This seems to state that there were about 55 million employees in Japan in 2012, of which about 15 million were employed in enterprises of 500+, while another 15 million were employed in enterprises of below 30.

Obviously the distinction is extremely important when trying to work out what proportion of the workforce is employed at large companies as opposed to SMEs etc - a point about which I have seen different figures quoted over the years. (And this has implications for the proportion covered by 'lifetime employment' - even though we know that this doesn't mean quite what it used to, and that large enterprises are employing more non-regular workers anyway.) My attention was drawn to this when reading Tobias Harris's blog for June 19, where Tobias refers to the Economic Census but interprets 'jigyousho' as 'companies'. I suspect he is wrong - and as a result dramatically underestimates the proportion of workers employed at large firms - but is my suspicion correct?
Peter Cave
Lecturer in Japanese Studies
SALC, University of Manchester

Approved by ssjmod at July 28, 2013 10:54 AM