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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class: News and Current Events in Japan, Season 1 - Lesson 22, The High Professional System
In recent days, there’s been a push to deregulate working hours for certain professionals.
In this lesson, we'll learn about this news story.

Lesson focus

The "High professional system" is a new mechanism that makes professionals with high annual incomes exempt from working hour regulations.
Specifically, it applies to people engaged in highly specialized professions specified by a ministerial ordinance for people with an annual income of 10,750,000 yen or more.
The organization of a company is basically a pyramid type. Under the top management of the company, there are supervisors, persons engaged in highly specialized professions are under them, and general workers are at the base of the pyramid.
As for administrative supervisors in the 2nd tier, they are already exempt from overtime payment obligations, and now they're trying to extend it to the third tier - highly specialized professionals.
For example, it includes analysts who conduct advanced analysis on things such as enterprises and markets, or people who work as consultants for businesses involved in research and development.
To put it simply, these are people who do not have to be paid for overtime work, but it's not only this.
Not only do the provisions of the Labor Standards Act stating that "workers shall not work more than 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week" not apply, but also the provisions for breaks and holidays are excluded. In the wording of the law, it is even pointed out that "24-hour continuous work" is also possible, so it is only natural that this system will be criticized as disregarding "health" of workers.
The ruling party is hoping to submit a revision of the Basic Labor Law related to the "High Professional System" as part of the "Working Style Reforms Bill" at the extraordinary Diet session this autumn and to begin deliberations.
Originally, the beginning was the "white collar exemption bill (WE bill)" submitted by Prime Minister Abe's first Cabinet in 2007.
However, it met strong resistance and was defeated. After the Democratic Party regained the political power, the second Abe administration changed its name to "high professional system" and resubmitted it as part of "Working style Reforms."
Despite changing the name, labor opposition is inevitable and there is criticism against the "zero overtime pay bill" and the "overwork death promotion bill."
In addition, the Japan Federation of Labor Unions, which showed a stance of accepting it on condition of "revision," turned to abandon it, saying that "measures to ensure health are still inadequate."
The ruling party could introduce a measure to vote it down by a margin, which could lead to a further decline in the approval rate of the Abe administration.
Will it be scrapped again or force its way through by the strength of numbers? The Abe administration will be forced to make a difficult decision.


Those are the key facts about the proposed High Professional System.
If you want to find the related Japanese keywords, make sure to check out the lesson notes.
Okay, that’s all for this lesson. Thank you for listening everyone, and keep listening for more of the most talked about news stories in Japan!