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Japanese business management has been based on a mechanism in which an organization hires permanent employees through “membership”and draws their commitment to the organization by offering long-term protection. In addition, companies have functioned with not only their institutional rules, but also complementary actions of the relevant actors such as the government, labor unions, and individuals. During the first decade of the 21st century, the environment surrounding Japanese companies has considerably changed along with factors including low-cost competition due to globalization, declines in the domestic economic growth rate because of a shrinking population and other reasons, and increasing instances of conflict resolution handled through the legal system. In response, companies have been leaning toward increasing the number of non-permanent employees while maintaining the level of permanent employee”membership”and, simultaneously, incorporating performance-based human resource management. Therefore, it has become difficult to sustain traditional long-term protection for employees and continue with old-fashioned management that has depended on employees’commitment to their organization.
In order to preserve the essence of the strength of Japanese-style management, companies need to lessen their reliance on their employees’ commitment to them and establish a new relationship with the employees. This requires changes within not only companies, but also the government, labor unions, and individuals. It becomes particularly important to provide individuals with, as skills, what traditional organizations have offered to their employees as protection. Hence, the details of such skills and the entities responsible for training individuals must be clarified urgently. This article discusses these issues in a concrete manner. It is desirable that such training extend beyond merely developing Western-style individual skills and include comparative studies of Japan and other nations.