Anti-Discrimination Laws in Japan

1. Brief Description of Anti-Discrimination Laws

Nationality, Creed (beliefs including religious/ political beliefs), Social Status (interpreted to include race) – the Labor Standards Act prohibits discriminatory treatment in setting out any terms and condition of employment, such as for salary, and work hours, based on such cause.

Gender – the Equal Employment Opportunity Act prohibits discrimination based on gender in hiring, placement, promotion, demotion, training, benefits, change in position and type of employment, seeking resignation, retirement age, dismissal or renewal of fixed term contract. The Labor Standards Act also explicitly prohibits discriminatory treatment based on gender for salary purposes.

Age – The Employment Measures Act prohibits discrimination based on age for hiring, with limited exceptions

Child care/ nursing care – the Child Care and Nursing Care Act prohibits disadvantageous treatment of any employee who applied for, or took, child care or nursing care leave and other measures under this law.

Disability – From April 1, 2016, employers are prohibited to treat persons with disability in a discriminatory manner, and from April 1 2018, employers will be required to implement measures to assist persons with disabilities to work (unless the measure will cause undue burden).

Union membership – the Labor Union Act prohibits discrimination by employers based on union membership, joining or trying to form a union, or participating in a justifiable union activity, or to make it a condition for hiring that an individual will not join a union or will leave a union.

Part-time Workers – The Part-Time Workers Act stipulates that part time workers who have similar job descriptions with full time employees and subject to similar job positions (e.g. will not be exempt from transferring to other locations), must be treated equally with respect to salary, training, benefits and other terms and conditions of employment.

2. Extent of Protection

For prohibition of discrimination in setting out or applying terms and conditions of employment, an employee seeking equal treatment may seek the same terms and conditions with the employee(s) they seek equal employment with.

3. Protections Against Harassment

Sexual harassment is prohibited under the Equal Employment Opportunities Act (and can lead to claims for damage against both the perpetrator and the employer if the employer failed to carry out its duty to provide due care for a safe working environment).

Power harassment (bullying) can also lead to a similar situation, although there is no specific legislation and is viewed as an illegal tort act under the Civil Code.

A recent addition to the major types of harassment is called “maternity harassment”.

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