When dismissal becomes a business transaction: Analysis of the processes and consequences of haken-giri under the global recession
This article analyzes the particular circumstances of temporary dispatched workers (haken rōdōsha) and a feature of their job insecurity as one facet of the growing inequality in contemporary Japanese society, focusing on the relative ease with which these workers are dismissed both legally and in practice. By contrasting with other more familiar forms of insecure labor in Japan, the paper examines the triangular relationship involving the three parties that characterize dispatched labor: the user, the employer, and the employee. The Worker Dispatching Act, which was enacted and then deregulated, enabled Japanese corporations to use dispatched workers while securing the capacity to remove them from their workplaces as a business transaction and not within the bounds of an employer-employee relationship. Using the theoretical framework of risk, the paper analyzes the emergence and spread of the triangular labor relationship as risk being shifted from the corporate level to the individual dispatched workers. It examines the consequences of the shift of risk by introducing cases of dismissal from fieldwork conducted during the global recession over the winter of 2009.