Double truth: employment insecurity and gender inequality in Japan’s neoliberal promotion of side jobs

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The ‘Work Style Reform’ (WSR) initiative, spearheaded by the late former Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, has advocated for the adoption of ‘fukugyō’ (‘side jobs’) as an additional source of income for workers. While this initiative is often uncritically viewed as a possible solution to insecure employment, especially for women employed in low-paying, temporary positions, this article argues that the WSR’s promotion of fukugyō, reinforces patriarchal norms rather than challenging them. Furthermore, it critiques the neoliberal ideology that underpins the WSR initiative, which portrays underpriviledged groups of workers, such as working women in non-regular employment earning less than their male counterparts, as ‘flexible’, ‘autonomous’ and ‘entrepreneurial’, capable of juggling multiple jobs while fulfiling their domestic duties. The article claims that the WSR’s promotion of fukugyō lacks sufficient legal safeguards and social welfare support for fukugyō workers, the majority of whom are not recognised as ‘workers’ under Japan’s labour law. As a result, it could exacerbate the problems of employment insecurity and gender inequality in Japan.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages23
JournalJapan Forum
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023


  • Flexible work arrangements
  • gender inequality
  • Informal workers
  • Japan
  • neoliberalism
  • Pay gap
  • Precarious employment
  • platform
  • gig economy

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