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MEXT survey into researchers with over ten years of fixed-term employment reveals that 80% are able to apply for indefinite-term employment


In Japan, out of the 110,706 employees under fixed-term employment contracts at 847 organizations, research institutions, and other organizations nationwide, including universities, colleges, laboratories, it was revealed through a MEXT survey that 80% of the 12,397 individuals who had accumulated employment contract periods exceeding 10 years and gained the right to request indefinite conversion by renewing their contracts by April 1 this year, had either secured indefinite employment contracts or obtained the right to request indefinite conversion. These findings are from a survey conducted by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). A MEXT official said, "We think this is a result of the efforts made by each organization. They tried to maintain 80 percent of the employees in permanent employment while their budget is severely constrained. However, some organizations did not tell their employees that they were within the scope of a special case contract when they were employed. We are determined to urge them to do so."

Among these 12,397 individuals, 511 have signed an indefinite labor contract. 9,466 of them have gained the privilege to apply for an indefinite-term contract by renewing their fixed-term contract. In total, 9,977 of them, or 80.5 percent, have acquired a path to permanent employment. On the other hand, 2,420 of them have terminated their labor contracts. Among them, 1,995 did so for some reason other than that they reached the age of retirement. 458 have found another job, while 38 have not, for various personal reasons, and 101 are still looking, as yet unsuccessfully, for their next job. Furthermore, there are 1,398 whose current job search situation or retirement is unknown. As a result, the maximum number of people who may face employment termination is 1,499.

257 organizations have given their employees some explanation about the special case contract when their employees sign a labor contract. This represents approximately half of all organizations. As for national universities and colleges, national research and development agencies, and the organizations that use a university or college, 105 organizations among the overall 114 (92.1 percent) gave such information at the time of contract termination. It has been revealed that private universities have not done enough.

Among the individuals employed by each organization in April this year, 19,047 are within the scope of the special case contract. Among these, 13,292 are teachers or related roles; 2,265 are researchers; 916 are engineers; 121 are URA; and 2,453 are in other categories. 10,597 are in a private university or college; 6,099 are in a national university; 1,472 are in public university or college; and 755 are in a national research and development agency.

Among these organizations, 68.7 percent have some limitation on the renewal of a contract and/or on their total years of employment; however, four out of seven organization types make continued employment possible if it is thought to be necessary. Moreover, 50 percent of the organizations have some unique system to turn a fixed-term labor contract into an indefinite-term contract. MEXT have issued notices to the organizations asking them to provide appropriate handling to applications for indefinite-term employment, appropriate explanation about the system, and appropriate career support.

If some 80 percent of the applicants that are within the scope of the special case in the program have acquired a permanent post, the organizations will suffer severe budget constraints. Therefore, it will be difficult for the next cohort of employees to gain indefinite-term employment by April 1 next year when they renew their contracts. Stable employment is an important factor in academic careers. On the other hand, mental rejuvenation, which means the cultivation of one's abilities through transfers among organizations, is also desirable. Some financial problems also arise. MEXT will establish a conference of experts to discuss measures appropriate to these issues.

This article has been translated by JST with permission from The Science News Ltd. ( Unauthorized reproduction of the article and photographs is prohibited.

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