The Asian Society of Labour Law held its fifth meeting at Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo on March 6-7 on the basic theme of "Probing the Characteristics of Asian Labour Law." Twenty-two researchers and others from 14 Asian countries and regions outside Japan attended the meeting. Including Japanese, there were about 50 participants in total. Representatives from each country delivered reports, which were followed by lively discussions. Laos was participating for the first time.
At the beginning of the meeting, President Kazuo Sugeno of the Japan Institute for Labour Policy and Training gave a keynote speech titled "Characteristics of Japanese Labour Law," after which there were presentations and discussions over the two days on three separate themes: fixed-term labour contracts, industrial dispute resolution systems, and labour law trends in participating countries. Finally, a symposium-style debate took place on the theme of labour law education in Asia. Before the closing ceremony, Professor Lin Cheng, currently vice-chairman of Shanghai Normal University, was appointed as the new chairman of the society, and it was decided that the next meeting would be held within the next two years in either Vietnam or Thailand.
Regarding the three separate themes at the meeting, representatives from each country delivered research presentations on the latest situation. Concerning fixed-term labour contracts, attention focused especially on reports from the Republic of Korea on labour law trends relating to nonregular workers, from Indonesia on outsourcing and dispatch work, and from the Philippines on its business process outsourcing sector, such as call centers. Concerning industrial dispute resolution systems, there was a report on Vietnam's revision of its labour legislation in 2012 and also from Hideyuki Wakamatsu, advisor at the Japan Council of Metalworkers' Unions (JCM), on industrial relations at overseas sites of Japanese metal companies.
Concerning labour law trends in participating countries, interest focused on such topics as the state of consideration of labour legislation revision under the military government in Thailand, the industry-specific minimum wage system in Singapore, and operation of the revised labour law that went into effect last year in Laos. JILAF advisor Kenichi Kumagai also reported on the revision of Mongolia's labour code scheduled to take place this year. Finally, in the symposium on labour law education, as well as reports on the situation in each country, Professor Emeritus Tetsunari Doko of Hokkaido University gave an introduction of Japan's "work rules test," which was followed by discussions.
The Asian Society of Labour Law was founded by labour law researchers and practitioners in Asian countries in 2008. Before this year's Tokyo meeting, it had held meetings in Kuala Lumpur in 2008, Manila in 2009, Taipei in 2010, and Beijing in 2012. As gatherings of labour law researchers in Asia, the International Society for Labour and Social Security Law, which is the equivalent of an international labour law society, had established the Asian Regional Congress in 1980. However, this regional congress has not gathering since a meeting in Taipei in 2005, and now the Asian Society of Labour Law serves as its replacement.