In Japan many workers for large corporations have a guarantee of lifetime employment. They will not be laid off during recession or when the tasks they perform are taken over by robots (机器人). To some observers, this is capitalism at its best, because workers are treated as people not things. Others see it as necessarily inefficient and believe it cannot continue if Japan is to remain competitive with foreign corporations more concerned about profits and less concerned about people.


    Defenders of the system argue that those who call it inefficient do not understand how it really works. In the first place not every Japanese worker has the guarantee of a lifetime job. The lifetime employment system includes only "regular employees." Many employees do not fall into this category, including all women. All businesses have many part time and temporary employees. These workers are hired and laid off during the course of the business cycle just as employees in the United States are. These "irregular workers" make up about 10 percent of the nonagricultural work force. Additionally, Japanese firms maintain some flexibility (灵活性) through the extensive use of subcontractors (分包单位). This practice is much more common in Japan than in the United States.


    The use of both subcontractors and temporary workers has increased markedly in Japan since the 1974-1975 recession. All this leads some to argue that the Japanese system really is not all that different from the American system. During recessions Japanesecorporations lay off temporary workers and give less business to subcontractors. In the United States, corporations lay off those workers with the least seniority (资历). The difference then is probably less than the term "lifetime employment" suggests, butthere still is a difference. And this difference cannot be understood without looking at the values of Japanese society. The relationship between employer and employee cannot be explained in purely contractual terms. Firms hold on to the employees and that employees stay with one firm. There are also practical reasons for not jumping from job to job. Most retirement benefits come from the employer. Changing jobs means losing these benefits. Also, teamwork is an essential part of Japanese production. Moving to a new firm means adapting to a different team and at least temporarily, lower productivity and lower pay.

Questions 1/5

Which of the following is the best title for this passage?

  • AEmployment in Japan
  • BEmployment both in Japan and in America
  • CLifetime Employment in Japan
  • DLifetime Employment in the United States

Questions 2/5

According to the passage, a woman in Japan ______.

  • Acannot get a lifetime job
  • Bcannot get a part time job
  • Cwill be employed for life
  • Dis among the regular workers

Questions 3/5

The use of subcontractors ______.

  • Ais much more common in Japan than in the United States
  • Bbegan in 1974
  • Cmakes Japanese firms less flexible
  • Dis out of date now in Japan

Questions 4/5

Those, who are first laid off by American corporations, are ______.

  • Atemporary workers
  • Bregular workers
  • Csenior workers
  • Djunior workers

Questions 5/5

The following statements are reasons for Japanese workers to stay with one firm except

______.

  • Athey don't want to lose their retirement benefits
  • Bthey get used to the teamwork
  • Cany change of jobs will make them less paid
  • Dthey are not adaptable people
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