Why was a job for life a big thing in Japan?

And why is it fading away?

“Shrewd observers of the Japanese system had long ago noted that lifetime employment offered companies the opportunity to employ scads of young people at little expense. Starting wages were fixed below true value across whole industries, and workers endured them in return for security and promised raises…

By 1993, with the percentage of workers fifty-five or older rising to 13 percent, that benefit had turned into a costly burden. Nearly 40 percent of Japan’s workforce had fifteen years or more of seniority. This posed a grave problem: Under seniority-based wages, only a tiny fraction of those older workers could be expected to produce more than the earned.”

About Face pg 153

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