AI a potential threat to employees in Japan

Japan is in the news this week for its plans to invest heavily in robotics. The country currently uses approximately 300,000 robots, and plans to push that number up to one million by 2025.

The country hopes to address a growing national problem: a shrinking workforce population. (The country has other plans in the works, too, including one to boost women’s participation in the labor force.) Japan also hopes to reassert its dominance in robotics.

While Japan may see AI as part of the cure for its national labor force issues, employees may not be thrilled with this prospect. Our employee survey shows that 52% of workers in Japan say their position changing or becoming obsolete is a top job concern—that’s well ahead of the global total (40%).

Like most technologies, AI will significantly alter the nature of work across the world, and employees should be prepared to reevaluate how they fit in to the new workplace.

Japan moves to increase women’s participation in labor force

In an effort to improve the economy, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has a plan to increase the number of mothers who return to work after giving birth by 55% over the next five years, according to this article from the Washington Post.

Today, just 38% of women in Japan return to the workforce after the birth of their first child. A number of reasons contribute to this lack of participation, including a cultural expectation to work very long hours, a tax system that punishes households with two working adults, and a shortage of daycare options.

To boost participation in the workforce, the Prime Minster plans to put more women in leadership positions and expand the country’s child-care systems. The greater challenge, however, will be changing the country’s mindset about the role of women in society.