Formulation of Comprehensive and Fundamental Policies and Policy Assessment
In order to propel social security policies and labour policies in a comprehensive and unified manner, the Director-General for Policy Planning and Evaluation conducts assessment of policies while formulating comprehensive and fundamental policies of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. Also, while creating annual reports on the administration of health, labour and welfare and conducting comprehensive analysis of economic issues, actions are taken to stabilize labour relations and to adequately implement population policies.
Formulating Comprehensive and Fundamental Policies
The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare is expected to aim at "Securing and improving people's living" and "Prospering economic", and to propel the actions for "Improving and enhancing social welfare, social security and public health" and "Organizing work environments, stabilizing employment and developing human resources" in a comprehensive and unified fashion.
While aging population increases rapidly with fewer children; economic growth ends its continuous growth; economic and social structure changes with the change in industrial structure along with the internationalization of economy; and people have diverse value systems, the Director-General for Policy Planning and Evaluation formulates comprehensive and fundamental policies for the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare to execute social security policies and labour policies in a unified manner.
Comprehensive Actions to the Aging Society with Fewer Children
The increase of aging population and decrease of child population are accelerating in Japan at a fast speed that no other developed nation experienced. As of 1998 one in every 6 persons was elderly, and in 2050 one in every 3 persons is expected to be elderly. The current total fertility rate (average number of children that one woman bears in her lifetime) is 1.38, which is much lower than the standard level of 2.08 for maintaining the population size, and population decrease is expected to begin in year 2007.
Considering this situation, the social security system should be made to respond adequately to newly emerging needs of citizens while balancing with the economy and not putting excessively heavy burden on future generations, and we must take actions for reforming pension, medical care and nursing care.
To take comprehensive actions for the aging society with fewer children, social security policies and labour policies should cover a wide range of issues, and the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare is playing an essential role in such effort.
Japan's administration is expected to aim at the following objectives and to enhance policy assessment functions: 1) To be fully accountable to citizens, 2) to realize efficient and high quality administration that focuses on citizens, and 3) to shift to the result-oriented administration with the view of citizens.
The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare will conduct policy assessment in order to deploy administration that adequately meets the changes in social and economic condition and people's needs.
Creating Annual Reports of Health, Labour and Welfare Administration
Health, labour and welfare administration directly links to people's living and it is important that its policies are implemented with understanding of citizens. To achieve this goal, annual reports have been created on health, labour and welfare administration.
Annual Report on Health and Welfare 1998-1999 is titled "Social Security and National Life" and clarifies 1) the specific effects of social security in actual people's living and their economy by revealing the objectives and functions of the social security, and 2) how Japan's social security system had developed during 50 years after World War II as well as the standard level achieved.
Starting the next fiscal year, annual reports will cover both social security policies and labour policies in a unified manner.
Comprehensive Analysis of Labour Economy
In order to adequately respond to the major structural change in the Japanese social economy, a wide range of analyses and studies have been conducted on the condition of labour economy, and the results of such analyses have been playing important role in policy development and planning.
"Labour Economy Analysis (White Paper on Labour)" published every year, analyzes the trends of labour economy of the year and also conducts comprehensive analysis of various important issues in long-term perspective. Its 1999 edition is titled "The Rapidly Changing Labour Market and New Job Creation", and discusses the issues in promoting the smooth change of employment structure for the 21st Century and stabilizing employment by analyzing the actual condition of labour market focusing on unemployment and its structural change, and understanding the condition of creating employment opportunities.
Stabilizing Labour Relations
Stable labour relations is essential to the social stability and economic development. While labour relations are relatively stable in recent years, complex and diverse problems are occurring in individual relations. The confederation (National Confederation of Trade Unions with approximately 7.5 million members) formed in 1989 is working towards the improvement of various work conditions and demanding policy systems to achieve its goal of "Realization of more leisurely life style and affluence".
Considering this situation, Round Table for Industry Labour is organized as a place for discussions among the "wisest people" including government, leaders of labour management and academic experts. Also, communications between employers and employees have been promoted at various occasions including prefectural level and industry level.
Furthermore, as agency to reconcile industrial dispute and to examine illegal labour conducts, Labour Relations Commissions are provided. Recently, the establishment of fast conflict resolution system is being considered in response to the increase of individual dispute between workers and employers.