Asian Executive Meeting of the International Society for Labour and Social Security Law(ISLSSL) was held in an international conference room of the Japan Institute for Labour Policy and Training (JILPT) in Tokyo from March 27 to 29, together with a JILPT Tokyo Comparative Labour Policy Seminar. The meetings were attended by 10 executives, including ISLSSL President Tiziano Treu (Italy), 7 invited speakers, and young researchers from 13 countries, mainly in Asia. Forty Japanese also participated, including labour and social security law researchers, government officials, and practitioners.
On the first day, JILPT President Kazuo Sugeno (who is also an honorary president of the ISLSSL) opened the ISLSSL Asian Regional Congress, after which a keynote speech was given by University of Tokyo Professor Takashi Araki (ISLSSL). This keynote speech was followed by special lectures and discussions. Reports were delivered by ISLSSL President Treu, Stephan Kang, Vice President, ISLSSL Asian Region (Asian Region, Taiwan), and Honorary Professor Manfred Weiss of Goethe University in Germany; the seminar participants also joined in the discussions. In the reports and discussions, it was confirmed that discussions on the management of the regional congress would continue.
On the second day the JILPT's Tokyo seminar began, with lectures by five speakers, country reports, and discussions. One of the focal points in the lectures and discussions was the digitization of labour. Reports and proposals were heard on the Impact of Industry 4.0 on Labour Market and Labour Law (Taiwan) and the application of labour law to Digital Platforms and the Gig Economy (Australia). In addition, regarding China, there were reports on labour reform and disputes (United States) and positive labour policy (China). From Japan, JILPT Director General Keiichiro Hamaguchi gave a report on comparative research relating to the settlement of industrial disputes in Japan.
In the country reports, 18 labour law and labour policy researchers from 13 countries gave very interesting presentations on their research results. For example, an industrial relations researcher at the University of the Philippines reported on the increasingly serious employment problem in the Philippines caused by the widespread use of short-term hiring. Recently Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has ordered a ban on short-term labour contracts in order to stabilize the job situation, but there is a strong danger that employers will cut employment so as to avoid high costs. The researcher emphasized the need to analyze industrial characteristics and tackle the issue realistically. Corporate lawyers also participated from least developed countries, such as Myanmar and Cambodia, reporting on the latest situation and research results and enthusiastically engaging in questions and answers.
The ISLSSL is an international society of labour and social security law researchers around the world. The ISLSSL Asian Regional Congress had not been held for 12 years, since a meeting in Taipei in 2005. At a time like the present, when labour laws and industrial relations in Asia are showing signs of large-scale movement, the resurrection of the meeting in Tokyo is highly significant. The seminar on this theme, attended by many young researchers, was held for the first time, but the organizers hope to continue it next year and thereafter. Hopefully the outcome of the meetings, including exchange with Japanese researchers and practitioners, will continue to be widely disseminated.
*The "gig" economy refers to the business pattern of accepting single job orders via the Internet. Examples are the Uber taxi and Airbnb lodging services. An international seminar on the future of labour, held in March of this year by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), took up this issue as well. The original meaning of "gig" is a one-off rock performance.